Policy Factsheet

Mental Health Services for Parents

Reasons for Policy

  • Up to 23% of all families have at least one parent with mental illness. 1
  • Mental illness can greatly impact parenting skills (e.g. less sensitive, poorer communication, and less affectionate). 1
  • Parental mental illness is associated with negative child outcomes such as, mental illness in the child, higher infant mortality rate, higher likelihood to be placed in foster care, and insecure attachment. 1

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local Public Health Department
  • Non-profits/Community Organizations

Policy Components

  • Proper identification of parenting status of mental health services users
  • Parenting skills training for parents with mental illnesses
  • Family-focused practices and interventions
  • Child care provided while the parent is using services
  • Psychoeducation for parents and children about mental illnesses
  • Use of interagency collaboration

Desired Outcomes

  • Positive parent-child relationships
  • Increased use of positive parenting skills
  • Increased mental health in parents
  • Increased mental health and social adjustment in children
  • Secure/positive attachment styles in children

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • The evidence of effectiveness for these programs is inefficient. More research is needed. 2


  1. Maybery, D, & Reupert, A (2009). Parental mental illness: A review of barriers and issues for working with families and children. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16, 784-791.  

  2. Craig, EA (2004). Parenting programs for women with mental illness who have young children: A review. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38, 923-928.  

  3. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.