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Handbook For Parents Of Youth With Mental Illness

News Release 20 August 2008

Skylight Launches A Handbook For Parents Of Young People With Mental Illness

Skylight, the national charitable trust that provides support to children, young people and their families/whānau through trauma, change, loss, and grief, has today launched a new resource, a handbook titled What Happens Next?.

Co-written by Wendy Lyons and Tricia Irving Hendry, What Happens Next? is a practical guide that provides support and information for the parents and caregivers of young people with a mental illness. Wendy and Tricia are both parents who have found themselves in this situation. In preparing this resource, they have drawn on their own experiences and those of other parents and families facing similar situations.

Wendy, a nurse and midwife says: “When my daughter was initially unwell with an undiagnosed mental illness my family was overwhelmed by the very intense and traumatic situation. Her behaviour was high risk, unpredictable and frightening. While there was help and support for my daughter, there was a lack of information available for us as a family trying to deal with and accept the situation and come to terms with its implications.

“As a health professional married to a General Practitioner I remember thinking if I can't get relevant, helpful information then other people can't either. My daughter was unwell for over 2 years before a diagnosis was confirmed and that was a very confusing and anxious time. Having a book such as What Happens Next? would have been invaluable.”

Realising there was a large gap in the amount of information and support available for parents and families led Wendy to make contact with a number of other parents in the same situation. They began to gather information and collate their experiences into a handbook for others to use which eventually led her to Skylight’s Resource and Information Centre Manager, Tricia Irving Hendry, who has personally dealt with similar issues as the parent.

Using Skylight’s expertise, and with the support of AXA and AXA Hearts in Action Trust Fund, What Happens Next? became a reality. The book is now available to support, encourage and inform others in this unique and demanding situation, providing helpful information and ideas about ways to cope and find effective support.

Tricia Irving Hendry of Skylight says: “Early reviews of the book have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. I know that we have created something really relevant when I hear people say that they wish they had access to a resource like this years ago, as they would have felt less alone and less helpless. We are sure that What Happens Next? will make a genuine and significant difference to the lives of families impacted by mental illness.

“It is very important for families to know that what they are feeling and thinking is normal, the questions they may have are important to ask, and that they are not alone. Getting information like this at an early stage can also help lead to better support and outcomes for the young person who is unwell.”

What Happens Next? is the latest addition to Skylight’s resource library, which is the most extensive specialist National Resource and Information Service in New Zealand dealing with the effects of change, loss, trauma and grief – whatever the cause.

What Happens Next? is available from Skylight and costs just $14. To purchase or for more information please contact Skylight on 0800 299 100 or see their website


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