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Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2009 Fall;33(2):125-32. doi: 10.2975/33.2.2009.125.132.

A "snapshot" of Australian programs to support children and adolescents whose parents have a mental illness.

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Monash University, Moe Victoria, Australia.



The aim of this study was to provide a "snapshot" of Australian programs targeting children and adolescents whose parents have a mental illness (COPMI). Specifically we aimed to (i) identify the aims and strategies of COPMI programs, (ii) ascertain the theoretical basis of these programs, (iii) determine the level and quality of evaluation protocols implemented, and (iv) draw on the practice wisdom of program facilitators for future program development.


Eighteen program facilitators responsible for 26 programs were identified through COPMI websites, e-discussion lists and snowball recruiting and invited to participate in a one hour interview based on the above four aims. Transcripts were qualitatively analyzed.


Many COPMI programs target children aged between 8-13 who exhibit no psychological problems and live in urban areas. Overall, program facilitators aim to create opportunities for peer interaction, enhance coping, self-esteem, understanding of mental illness and offer respite from caring. Interventions are primarily supportive and preventative. While most programs are evaluated, measures on the whole are not standardized and/or gauge children's satisfaction of the program.


Program facilitators require greater support, resources and training when evaluating COPMI programs. Program goals provide an indication of the evaluation measures required.

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