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Soc Work Health Care. 2004;39(1-2):151-63.

Coping and resilience of children of a mentally ill parent.

Author information

  • 1University of Kuopio, Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland. Pirjo.Polkki@uku.fi


This paper examines the needs and stress reactions of children of mentally ill parents, as well as coping and resilience. The study is based on the interviews of six 9-11 years old children and narratives of seventeen female grown up children of mentally ill parents. The younger and older children of the mentally ill parents had not been informed about their parent's illness. The illness of the parent aroused a variety of emotions in them. The children used both practical problem solving and emotional coping mechanisms. Informal social support was available to them but seldom from the public services. It is recommended that professionals in mental health and child welfare services clarify their roles when working with mentally ill parents. The best interest of the child and the parenting they need should be carefully assessed. Open care measures should be offered to families early enough to prevent serious child welfare and mental problems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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