Supporting healthy relationships among parents with mental health difficulties: A practical guide

Legacy Content

This project or publication was produced before or during the merger of What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).

This practical guide for local areas has been developed to improve understanding of how risk factors among parents with mental health difficulties can impact on parental conflict and in turn on child outcomes, how to effectively engage these parents, what evidence-based support can be offered, and how to appropriately assess progress for these families.

Currently little attention is paid to how parents with mental health difficulties experience parental conflict in the UK, and the impact this has on their children. Given the prevalence of common mental health problems in England, understanding the relationship between parental mental health and parental conflict is important.

Research evidence shows that parents’ mental health difficulties may be made worse by parental conflict and vice versa. This may mean that children are at greater risk of poor outcomes if their parents are experiencing mental health difficulties; an association that may be explained or compounded by the presence of parental conflict.

This guide has been developed for local leads, commissioners and practitioners to improve understanding of the factors that increase the risk of parental conflict among parents with mental health difficulties, how to engage parents, what evidence-based support can be offered, and how to assess progress for these families.

The guide includes:

  • An overview of the research evidence of the factors that can increase the risk of parental conflict among parents with mental health difficulties, and the impact of parental conflict on child outcomes.
  • Advice on how research evidence can be put into practice to inform your local strategy.
  • Recommendations on how to engage parents with mental health difficulties.
  • A summary of evidence-based healthy relationship and parenting interventions that can be used with parents with mental health difficulties.
  • A summary of measurement tools that can be used to measure parental conflict, parental stress and co-parenting with parents with mental health difficulties.

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