First, consider what kind of help you need
Rest assured – there is help out there for children of parents experiencing mental illness and their family members! However, the kind of help you need will depend on your individual circumstances. Often the best place to start is with your local doctor or support worker. You may not necessarily need a specialist COPMI program – families are everyone’s business!
Talking to a doctor or support professional
If you’re not sure how to ask for help from your doctor or another professional, start by explaining how mental illness is affecting your family and that you’d like to find help for individual family members as well as the family as a whole. If you are feeling unsure about what to say, you could print this page and take it with you to show them. There are a range of government and non-government services available that may be able to provide the help you need.
Be patient - good help can take time to find
Be aware that your doctor or support worker may not have all the answers straight away and finding the right support services can be tricky. You may need to be persistent and try a few different options until you find what is right for your family. By working together with a good doctor or other professional you will be able to identify your family’s strengths, areas of need and the help that may be right for you.
Two great tools to start
- KidsMatter offers a comprehensive 'directory for kids' mental health and wellbeing'
- COPMI offers a prevention services and helplines search tool
The COPMI tool will provide with you with a list of opportunities that are specifically related to children of parents with a mental illness and their families. We recommend you talk to your doctor or support worker regarding how appropriate they might be for you and your family and about others that are available.
The services range from camps for kids and support programs for carers to supported playgroups and assistance for parents. Services will vary depending on the area you live. A knowledgeable doctor or support worker can help you to learn about what else is available in your local area.
Listed below are some other services that are not specific to children of parents with a mental illness, but are available in most areas of Australia and may be able to help.
- Family Mental Health Support Services in your area
- Child and adolescent mental health services in your area (CAMHS)
- Adult mental health services in your area
- Maternal and child health nurses in your area
- headspace (1800 650 890)
- Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs)
- Carers Australia (1800 242 636)
- Young Carers Australia (1800 242 636)
- Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800)
- Lifeline (13 11 14)
- MensLine Australia (1300 78 99 78)
- Relationships Australia (1300 364 277)