Parenting with Severe & Persistent Mental Illness: Help & Hope for Families

In This Episode:

Photo of Parenting with Severe & Persistent Mental Illness ME Guests, Jane Perry & Kim GascoigneIn the 3rd and final episode of this series on parent and child mental health, Jane Perry and Kim Gascoigne, therapists and leaders from St. David’s Center, confront the challenges of parenting with severe & persistent mental illness (SPMI), such as bi-polar disorder or  schizophrenia. They discuss the impact of severe mental illness on the parent-infant relationship and the child’s long-term development. Think, for example, of the unpredictability of behavior for many parents with SPMI and the helplessness that engenders in a baby reaching out in hopes their parent will meet their needs. When a baby sees the parent’s face looking flat or chronically sad – when the parent has no energy to respond to the baby’s needs for food or comfort or play – the baby learns, “No one will take care of me.” Or perhaps a parent is overstimulating or volatile, swinging from one mood to another, leaving the baby frightened about what will happen next.

Jane and Kim find hope in their work with these parents and their young children, especially in parent-infant interventions that allow parents to discover and build on their own moments of competence and connection. And Jane and Kim find hope in research demonstrating the power of other caring adults (teachers, grandparents, neighbors) to make a long-term difference in the life of a child. If you know someone living with SPMI, by offering calm, positive support to parent and child, you can be the person who tips the balance toward hope. And if you live in Minnesota, let the family know about the programs and resources available at St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development, a supporting partner of Mom Enough®.  

 

HAVE YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW EXPERIENCED SEVERE & PERSISTENT MENTAL ILLNESS?

How can understanding the impact of severe mental illness on the parent-infant relationship help individuals provide better support and empathy to parents with SPMI, particularly in moments of unpredictability or emotional challenges? Jane and Kim mention the importance of parent-infant interventions for those dealing with severe mental illness. What are some key elements of these interventions, and how do they contribute to helping parents discover and build on their moments of competence and connection? How can supportive figures, like teachers, grandparents and friends, effectively contribute to the well-being of both the parent and the child, and what specific actions can they take to create a positive impact? What are some practical ways individuals can provide support, and how can communities work together to create a more supportive environment for families dealing with severe mental illness?

 

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Check out the first and second episodes of this three-part series:

Episode 1: Parental Mental Health and Its Impact on Child Mental Health

Episode 2: Postpartum Depression & Anxiety, Support & Intervention for Parent and Baby

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