Parental Mental Health

Parental mental health safeguarding involves measures and interventions aimed at protecting the well-being of children whose parents may be experiencing mental health challenges.

This can include access to support services, therapy, education, and creating safe environments for children to thrive despite their parents’ mental health issues.

It’s crucial to address parental mental health effectively to ensure the welfare of both parents and their children.

 

Safeguarding children when a parent is struggling with mental health is crucial.

Here are some key strategies:

  1. Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue between parents and children about mental health concerns in an age-appropriate manner.
  2. Seek Support: Encourage the parent to seek professional help from mental health professionals, therapists, or support groups.
  3. Stress Management: Help parents develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, such as mindfulness, exercise, and relaxation techniques.
  4. Establish Routine: Maintain a stable and predictable routine for children to provide a sense of security and stability.
  5. Educate: Educate family members about mental health issues, symptoms, and treatment options to reduce stigma and increase understanding.
  6. Safety Plan: Develop a safety plan in case of emergencies or crises, including emergency contacts and procedures.
  7. External Support: Utilize external support systems such as family, friends, or community resources to provide additional assistance and respite for the parent and children.
  8. Monitor Well-being:  Keep an eye on the well-being of both the parent and the children, and intervene if necessary to ensure their safety and mental health needs are met.
  9. Consider the use of Screening tools such as the GAD-7 and PHQ-9 (see below) *THE GUIDANCE NOTES BELOW MUST BE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BEFORE ADMINISTERING THE TOOLS

 

Form-icon PHQ-9 and GAD-7

Guidance Notes

What is PHQ-9?

The PHQ-9 is a 9-question instrument with the aim of screening for the presence and severity of depression.

PHQ-9 scoring

It is not used just as a screening tool for depression, but can also be used to monitor the severity of depression and response to treatment. However, it can be used to make a tentative diagnosis of depression in at-risk populations.  However, it cannot be used as replacement for clinical assessment and additional evaluation should be used.

PHQ-9 Depression Severity

Scores represent: 0-5 mild.  6-10 moderate.  11-15 moderately severe anxiety.  15-21 moderately severe.  15-21 severe depression.

In all cases, if depression is suspected, and you are unsure as to how to proceed advice should be sought from a healthcare provider. 

What is GAD-7?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD-7) is a self-reported questionnaire for screening and severity measuring of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

GAD-7 is a sensitive self-administrated test to assess generalized anxiety disorder.  The scale uses a system of scoring with question at the end qualitatively describing severity of the anxiety over the past 2 weeks

However, it cannot be used as replacement for clinical assessment and additional evaluation should be used to confirm a diagnosis of GAD.

GAD-7 scoring

The GAD-7 score is calculated by assigning scores of 0, 1, 2, and 3, to the response categories of ‘not at all’, ‘several days’, ‘more than half the days’, and ‘nearly every day’, respectively, and adding together the scores for the seven questions.

Scores of 5, 10, and 15 are taken as the cut-off points for mild, moderate and severe anxiety, respectively. When used as a screening tool, further evaluation is recommended when the score is 10 or greater.

In all cases, if anxiety is suspected, and you are unsure as to how to proceed advice should be sought from a healthcare provider. 

The results from these screening tools are not a definitive assessment of risk. They should provide you with a structure to inform your judgement and act as prompts to further questioning, analysis and risk management.