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Supporting Parents, Healthy Children
Resources: Mental Health, Wellbeing, Support, For Family / Whānau, Parents and Caregivers
Talking with your children about your mental health or addiction issues can help them make sense of changes they see in the family and whānau.

Motu e va’a e taha. ‘Oku ongo katoa ia ki ke fu’u akau”

When one branch breaks the whole tree feels it. 

Tongan proverb

Talking with your children about mental health or addiction issues can help them make sense of changes they see in the family and whānau. Without support, your children will try to make sense of these changes on their own. Talking with them will reduce their confusion.

You need to tell them enough to reduce their concerns about your issues and how you are being supported – and they need to know that they aren’t to blame. You might be worried that talking about your issues with your children will burden them. In fact, many parents say that their children are reassured to learn about why things might be ‘different’ and that their parents are taking steps to manage the issues. For advice around this visit here >

Plan for Caring for Children: Being a parent is an important role. This plan helps everyone support the children, family and whānau of people who are parents and who also use mental health or addiction services.

If children need care due to a parent’s illness or time in respite/rehab/hospital, it is good to record the wishes of everyone involved ahead of time. The plan is about being prepared and talking through possible processes and issues – the plan may never have to be used.

Parents want the best for their children and these guidelines provide all mental health and addiction services, adult and child services alike, with the mandate to work in a family-focused way to help parents achieve this. These guidelines help to ensure that the wellbeing of children is everyone’s responsibility, not just infant, child and adolescent services. 

Other useful links:

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) website 

Resources for people working with whānau experiencing wellbeing concerns by Whāraurau

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Position Statement 2016

Yellow Brick Road - support for families towards wellbeing

Supporting parents with mental illness and or addiction and their children – government guidelines, plans and resources for mental health and addiction services