Mental ill health in a parent or carer does not necessarily have an adverse impact on a child's development. Just as there is a range in severity of illness, so there is a range of potential impact on families. Most parents with a history of mental ill health present no risk to their children, however even in cases of low-level concern, the needs of the child/ren must be paramount.
It is important to recognise that other issues can exacerbate the risk presented by mental ill health. For example, the presence of drug or alcohol misuse, domestic abuse, parental conflict in the household with little or no family or community support could indicate an increased likelihood of risk to the child, and to the parents' mental health and wellbeing.
It is essential that the diagnosis of a parent/carer's mental health is not seen as defining the level of risk. Similarly, the absence of a diagnosis does not equate to there being little or no risk. An assessment should consider the impact on the child of the parents’ behaviour and consider what support services are in place or available for the family to access. Adult and children services need to be alert to signs that children and parents need support and to the signs that a child or parent may be at risk.
Joint Case Reviews
Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership (SCSP) in partnership with Sheffield Health and Social Care Service (SHSC) undertake 2 Joint Case Reviews a year involving all the key partner agencies. The main aim is to improve multi-agency working between adult and children services with families where there is mental ill health within the household.
Learning Brief Family Z
Learning Brief Family Y
Learning Brief Family X
Learning Brief Family W
Learning Brief Family U
Learning Brief Family S
Learning Brief Family R
SCSP fact sheets:
SCSP policy & protocols:
If you have concerns about a child
Practitioners should refer to the Safeguarding online procedures, 1.2 Making a Referral following the Identification of Child Safety and Welfare Concerns
Members of the public can use the link at the top right of the page.