Needs for Primary Prevention in Families with  Parents Suffering from Mental Disorders

Psychiatric care systems are poorly prepared to detect, identify and meet the complex needs of families with parents suffering from mental disorders. Psychiatric treatment services in particular lack of attention to children of parents suffering from mental disorders and thus do not take advantage of health promoting and primary preventive opportunities, and improvement of mental health literacy. In most treatment settings children are not considered to require support. Such absence in essential expertise conflicts with an increasing evidence that particularly these children are at highest risk for mental health problems. Mental disorders will occur in two-third of the burdened children and be triggered by parental disease. So, there is clear evidence documenting that the entire family system is affected by a mental disorder in one parent (e.g., by this parent’s absence from the family during treatment). Therefore it is necessary to analyse the family’s perspective (needs for and available mental health literacy) instead of services offered by the psychiatric care system.

The NePP study aims at (1) identifying and assessing self-reported needs of families where at least one parent is suffering from an affective disorder, (2) analysing families’ help
seeking behaviours and (3) analysing the impact of different factors (e.g., gender, socioeconomic status) on mental health literacy. Results of our study will be translated into recommendations for mental health promotion. Innovation. This study will be the first to address the needs of families with at least one parent suffering from mental disorders and the importance of these needs for health promoting policy making. This is of extraordinary significance considering the burdens experienced in the families (e.g. in parentchild-interaction) as well as the psychosocial stresses and strains of the children in particular. Based on the needs articulated in the interviews, the analysis will outline the mental health literacy dimensions and will contribute to improving child and adolescent health in vulnerable groups. According to the public health action cycle, the top priority of primary prevention strategies
is to focus on assessing the needs of target groups. In the consortium’s work package connected to the aim of enhancing mental health literacy, the subproject aims at gaining first insights into the families’ internal patterns of interaction that offer particularly promising starting points for strategies of health promotion.

Prof. Dr. Ullrich Bauer
Bielefeld University
Dirk Bruland
Bielefeld University
Prof. Dr. Albert Lenz
-subproject leader-
Westfalen Catholic University of Applied Sciences
Dr. Ewald Rahn
Patricia Wahl
-contact person-
Westfalen Catholic University of Applied Sciences