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Toolkit to help parents with mental health issues

First-of-its-kind toolkit to help parents with mental health or addiction issues

A New Zealand first-of-its-kind resource toolkit for community-based services to help parents struggling with mental health problems or addictions was launched in Palmerston North yesterday.

The Supporting Parents - Healthy Children Toolkit is an initiative of MidCentral District Health Board and the Manawatu Supporting Families in Mental Illness organisation, both part of the Clinical Network Mental Health and Addictions project group including community organisations, secondary and primary care health professionals.

The free toolkit is an A4 folder containing:

• a directory of community-based services

• tips and information for families/whānau where a parent is affected by mental health and/or addiction

• a template of a plan of action for children living in the presence of mental health and/or addiction issues

• a template of a family/whānau plan for the care of children should their parent be temporarily unable to do so

• a Parenting Through Challenging Times information booklet

• a Tips for Parents and Carers information story book

• life strategies for family/whānau and friends of people using alcohol and other drugs

MidCentral DHB Mental Health and Addictions Portfolio Manager Claudine Nepia-Tule says the Supporting Parents – Healthy Children context works best where the needs of the children are not seen as separate to the needs of their parents.

“Parents want the best for their children and the toolkit provides community-based services with a family-focussed way to support people in their role as parents and caregivers,” she said.

“Also, while children and young people who have a parent with mental illness or addictions are vulnerable in a variety of ways, including having a substantially greater risk of developing mental health problems later in life, there is clear evidence that most grow up well-adjusted.”

Ms Nepia-Tule said the needs of families/whānau in the community were reviewed as part of the project to develop the toolkit, which also helps implement the Ministry of Health’s Supporting Parents - Healthy Children guidelines.

“We’ve responded to the feedback from parents and caregivers who requested more information be provided to services to encourage conversations regarding their children. This can be as simple as setting a plan for their children, if that parent or caregiver became unwell or was admitted to an inpatient service or residential care.”

The tool-kit has been described as an excellent initiative which has both district-wide and national importance by Bronwyn Dunnachie, representing the National Project Team. The team comprises a collective from all of the national workforce programmes for the Ministry of Health; charged with providing support to all services implementing the Supporting Parents – Healthy Children guidelines.

The Supporting Parents - Healthy Children Toolkit will be distributed to primary care services throughout the MidCentral DHB area, and will be available online on the National Workforce Centre for Children and Adolescent Mental Health website and


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