Health Association in New York State, Inc.
Community Connections, Fall 2002
Fact Sheets Address Challenges for Parents With Mental Illness
Every year, one in five Americans has a mental illness, and many of them are parents. A new series of fact sheets by the National Mental Health Association addresses the unique challenges specific to parents who have a mental illness and recommends programs and supports that can strengthen their families.
“Most people know at least one family in which a parent has a mental illness, whether or not that illness has been disclosed,” says Michael Faenza, president and CEO of NMHA. “The impact of mental illness on family life can be powerful but, given effective types of support, many parents with serious mental illness parent successfully.”
Unfortunately, up to 70 to 80 percent of parents with serious mental illness risk losing custody of their children. NMHA’s new Strengthening Families series includes fact sheets on child custody and other challenges, protective factors for children, services and support programs for families, and the Invisible Children’s Project (ICP).
In 1993, the Mental Health Association in Orange County developed ICP to provide integrated essential services to parents who have mental illness or co-occurring disorders. ICP helps these parents increase their ability to function in their communities and assists them in creating a safe and nurturing environment for their children. NMHA is working to replicate ICP through its affiliate network.
Strengthening Families materials were developed with support from the E.H.A. Foundation and can be downloaded at http://www.nmha.org/children/, or you can request hard copies by calling 800-969-NMHA (6642).