The number of parents who are patients attending adult psychiatric services

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Having a parent with a mental illness is a major risk to children's wellbeing. The first step in developing policies and procedures that could assist these children is to determine the numbers of parents attending adult psychiatric services. This is the first systematic examination of the literature regarding the prevalence and family circumstances of parents attending adult psychiatric services.

Recent findings

Nine peer reviewed publications showed parent prevalence in adult services ranging from 12.2 to 45.0%. Prevalence variability is associated with the type of adult service (e.g. inpatient and outpatient), sampling (e.g. single service versus whole of state) and parent characteristics (e.g. sex, diagnosis, relationship status, family information).

Summary

A large minority of adult psychiatric service patients are parents. Given the prevention and early intervention benefits for parents and their families, adult psychiatric services need to be responsive to their needs. Future research should distinguish the type of service being audited, parent sex and diagnosis and the family circumstances that imbue greater risks to families, as well as opportunities to support children.

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