Mental illness in parents increasing according to new report

New research published in the Medical Journal of Australia  shows that the number of parents with mental illness increased by three per cent every year between 1990 to 2005.   That represents more than a 45% increase in that period. 

The lead author of the report was Dr Melissa O'Donnell from the University of WA

One commentator, psychiatrist Dr Nick Kowalenk, from Children of Parents with a Mental Illness, says there are specific developmental issues for children who have mentally ill parents.

"Usually for kids.... who are five, six, seven, they're affected to the extent that they can lose a bit of confidence when their parents are depressed," he said.

"We've got some Australian evidence which shows that school readiness is impacted when mum or dad is depressed.

"If parents have substance abuse problems and those sorts of issues and addictions, that's also not a good thing for kids and they tend to have a whole lot more behavioural problems and some difficulties."

He says mental illness in parents is a hidden problem and there needs to be more support.

"The issue of kids is one that's not always addressed that well," he said.

The issue of kids is one that’s not always addressed that well
— Dr Nick Kowalenk