Emerging Minds will soon be hiring again!

The Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative is continuing to merge with Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. Emerging Minds is currently building a team to develop and deliver the project and are looking for several highly skilled people. Please visit again soon to see new job listings.




In this edition:



New child care plans

Thank you to all the parents, carers, young people, children and professionals who were involved in the development of the COPMI national initiative’s new child care plans.

Child care plans are an excellent communication tool for parents to outline their wishes for their child or children if things get tough. They are not legally binding documents, rather they are written to outline the family’s preferences and to maintain the everyday routines that a child needs to feel safe and secure when there’s a rough patch. They help people, including family members and health professionals, understand how best to support the child.

A child care plan functions as a ‘just in case’ plan and is best written when a parent is well. The new COPMI care plan templates are designed to help a parent to think about their child’s needs and to write the information into a plan in case of a crisis or a period of being unwell.

Both parents and professionals can access the COPMI child care plans and instructions on how to use them. If you are a professional working with parents who experience mental illness, or a partner, family member or support person, you can assist by helping the parent to reflect on the care plan worksheet and to identify people that could help. Similarly, parents who require support to complete the care plan, are encouraged to speak to their GP, health professional, friends or trusted family members.

Go to child care plans


'My child's support network' guide

Having access to supportive relationships can help a child to thrive. These relationships can also support parents and strengthen the whole family when a parent experiences a mental illness.

COPMI’s 'My child's support network' guide is designed to help parents think about the relationships in their child's life and ways to strengthen these to support their child and the family as well.

The exercises in the guide are best completed when a parent is well. Parents can work through the guide alone or with the support of friends, family, doctor or mental health professional.

The guide is designed to be used separately for each child in the family and it takes three steps to complete:

  • Step 1: Identify the closest relationships in the child's life.
  • Step 2: Consider the role of each of these relationships in the child's life and how these connections could be strengthened, so that they can be used in tough times, or during times of major change.
  • Step 3: Offer the child the 'My connections' worksheet to help them identify the people in their life that they feel comfortable to contact if they need or want to. Invite the child to keep the completed worksheet in a safe place.

Access the 'My child's support network' guide here


Professional development opportunities

The COPMI national initiative offers several interactive and evidence-based eLearning courses for professionals working with parents, children and families where a parent experiences mental illness.

Ranging from introductory level through to experienced, the courses are free, accessible online and endorsed by numerous professional associations for the accrual of CPD points.

Not only are they interactive and engaging, the courses are also available 24/7 and provide the option of resuming where a participant has previously left off, without any time limits.

Professional endorsement

The COPMI national initiative's courses are endorsed for CPD points by the following professional associations:

  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) Focused Psychological Strategies
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses
  • Australian Association of Social Workers

You can find out more about the CPD status, directly from the eLearning system.

Note: Members of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) can accrue CPD hours by participating in CPD activities that they determine to be relevant to their individual professional skills, learning plans and goals. These can be self-initiated. CPD activities do not need to be formally endorsed by the APS or OTA as required by the other institutions listed above.

Go to eLearning courses

In this edition:


Working with GPs to promote opportunities to better meet the needs of families and children where a parent has a mental illness

GPs are often the first point of contact for a person seeking help for a mental health condition. From April 2013 to March 2014 the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) estimated that 13% of GP appointments were mental-health related. This translates to 17 million mental health related GP consultations each year in Australia.

Research has demonstrated that taking a ‘family focus’ approach can help a parent’s recovery from a mental illness, support a child’s social and emotional wellbeing and enhance the family’s capacity to manage the challenges that mental illness can bring.

Over the past 12 months, the COPMI national initiative has continued to work in partnership with the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP), practicing GPs, and parents and children with lived experience to explore opportunities within primary health care settings to better meet the needs of families and children where a parent has a mental illness.

In 2016 the COPMI national initiative completed a scoping project with GPs across Australia to identify existing practices and policies in relation to working with parents who have a mental illness and their dependent children.

Additional scoping activities were undertaken to gain a better understanding of the support children and families receive in general practice when a parent presents with a mental illness and identifying further opportunities. This included literature reviews, interviews and focus groups with lived experience representatives.


Identifying parental mental illness in general practice

Adaptations to the Adult and Child Mental Health Treatment Plan templates have been made and updated versions are now available on the GPMHSC website.

  • The Adult Mental Health Treatment Plan template now includes the question ’Is this person a parent of a child 0-18 years?’ The template now features the added component of assessing the child and parenting need, ‘Record the name and date of birth of any children under 0-18 years’, ‘The impact of mental health difficulties on their parenting, the parent-child relationship, and their children’.
  • The Child Mental Health Treatment Plan template now includes the prompt ’Has the parent been considered for a Mental Health Treatment Plan?’.

The updates to the Mental Health Treatment Plan templates were communicated through the RACGP and GPMHSC networks, the Mental Health Professionals Network and the COPMI national initiative’s communication strategies.

Scoping activities were undertaken in order to better understand and strengthen practices to support the needs of children and families

This included:

  • Interviews with parents who have a lived experience of mental illness to explore their experiences in GP consultations, their journey through primary health care services and recommendations to support parenting and children’s needs when a parent accesses support for a mental health issue.
  • A focus group with young people regarding their contact with GPs and/or primary health care services, in the context of either ‘supporting’ and/or being present in a consultation with a parent, or in relation to their own help-seeking from a GP when a parent experiences a mental illness.
  • Literature reviews of national and international evidence regarding:
    • interventions that have been applied in primary health care settings to address the needs of children of parents with a mental illness
    • assessments and interventions that incorporate family and child needs when working with parents with a mental illness.

Both parents and young people have described how parenting and children’s needs have been ‘overlooked’ by GPs, even when the child has been present during the consultation. The parents and young people interviewed for this project stated they wanted to talk to their GP about the impact of the mental illness on all of the family members however, they relied on the GP to initiate this conversation.

The adaptations to the Mental Health Treatment Plans provide an opportunity for GPs to initiate conversations about parenting and child and family needs in the context of parental mental illness.

Click here to access the Adult and Child Mental Health Treatment Plan templates.


New evidence-based 'GEMS' research summary

The latest 'GEMS' (Gateway to Evidence that MatterS) publication has just been released: Engaging children, who have a parent with a mental illness, into peer support programs: What works?

It is a short, two-page summary of evidence regarding engaging children, who have a parent with a mental illness, into peer support programs.

Children, who have a parent with a mental illness, have a higher risk of acquiring a mental illness. Peer support programs, when provided in a holistic family manner, can offer support and information to children and their families, however it can be difficult to engage parents and children into these programs.


COPMI videos for young people – strengthening children’s understanding of their parents’ mental illness

Have you seen the COPMI national initiative’s suite of video material for young people?

Aimed at young people aged 10 years and over, the objective of the videos is to strengthen children’s understanding of their parents’ mental illness and the symptoms parents may experience.

Produced alongside young people with a lived experience of their parents' mental illness and mental health professionals, the short, engaging clips are presented by young people and deliver information about mental illness in a clear and easily relatable manner.

The topics include ‘What is a mental illness?’, ‘Will my parent get better?' and address the importance of young people taking care of their own wellbeing, along with a description of six different diagnoses or symptoms.

Although the videos are aimed at young people, they can also be used by parents who may wish to start a conversation with their children about mental illness. The videos can also be used in school environments and by professionals who work with children and families. The ‘About mental illness’ video needs to be viewed first as it introduces the series.

Click here to access the 'About mental illness' videos.


In this edition:


 Mental Health Week: Keeping children, parents and families in mind


Monash University researchers seek young people's opionions 

Can you help?

Monash University is seeking the opinions of young people (aged 16-21 years) who live with (or have lived with in the past) a parent who experiences mental illness.

This Monash University study aims to explore and reach consensus about peer support and education for young people in families where a parent has a mental illness.

Participation involves filling out 3 different, confidential online surveys (that take approximately 20-30 minutes each) at specific times advised.

Young people will receive $20 gift voucher per stage of participation (maximum $60).

Access the online survey

Young people interested in participating:

  1. Click on this link.
  2. Read the ‘Explanatory Statement’ and hit the 'I agree' button.
  3. You'll be redirected to the first survey where you can follow the prompts.


Contact Associate Professor Andrea Reupert or call (03) 9902 4587.

Please share this information with any networks or individuals who you think may be interested. 


Recognising grandparent carers this Grandparent's Day

Sunday October 30 is Grandparents Day in Australia. It acknowledges the vital role that grandparents play in our society, both as custodians of individual and cultural memories and as providers of care, love and guidance to their children and grandchildren.

For parents who become unwell with mental illness, grandparents often step in to help care for their grandkids, or even become full-time parents for the second time around. Grandparents Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their contribution in these families.

Helpful information for grandparents

This following information may be helpful for grandparents who are caring for children when their parent is mentally unwell:

Report findings for professionals

If you are a professional, this is the perfect time to stop and think about grandparent carers too. The report 'Grandparents raising grandchildren: Towards recognition, respect and reward' presents findings from the research project 'Grandparents as Primary Carers of their Grandchildren: A National, State and Territory Analysis'. The research was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.  


National Carers Week 2016

It's National Carers Week from 16 to 22 October, when we take the opportunity to raise awareness and recognise the 2.8 million unpaid carers in Australia.

Whether you're an individual or organisation, why not take 30 seconds to send an online 'thank you' and show your support on the official website?

Hey young people... are you a young carer?

Do you do any of the below to help your parent when they're unwell, like:

  • cooking or cleaning
  • helping them with medication or appointments
  • checking on your parent to make sure they are okay?

If so, then you might be a young carer.

There are lots of young people like you out there - so you're definitely not alone. Learn more about it here, and the awesome free support available to you!


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In this edition:


Using implementation science to inform prevention strategies for families where a parent has a mental illness

The latest 'GEMS' (Gateway to Evidence that Matters) publication has just been released. 'Using implementation science to inform prevention strategies for families where a parent has a mental illness' discusses how implementation science can support the improved uptake of prevention programs and strategies for children and families where a parent has a mental illness.

The article, written by Bjørg Eva Skogøy a researcher from Norway, also summarises an implementation framework that has been used to evaluate the implementation of family interventions in hospital settings.

Read the GEMS

Read previously published GEMS

Are you a mental health nurse who works with parents with a mental illness?

In Australia there is a significant knowledge gap regarding mental health nurses' knowledge and practice when working with parents with a mental illness and their children and families.

A team of researchers is currently seeking mental health nurses who work with parents with a mental illness with dependent children 0-18 years to participate in the study.This study will investigate mental health nurses' experience, knowledge and practices when working with families where parents have a mental illness. 

Participation will involve complete an anonymous survey that will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete. Participants will have the opportunity to provide their contact details (in a separate section to the survey responses) and go into the draw to win one of two mini iPads.

Access the survey (Ethics approval number: 2016-179E)

Provide feedback on the draft National Mental Health Plan and a proposed new carer support service system

The draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan

The draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan has been released for feedback. To view the draft and provide comments on the plan, visit the consultation page on the Department of Health website:

Fifth National Mental Health Plan

Draft model for a proposed carer support service system

The Australian Government is seeking comments on a draft service delivery model for a proposed new integrated carer support service system.

To share your thoughts on the draft model visit the Department of Social Services website:

A draft service delivery model for a proposed new inegrated carer support service system

Call for papers: Supporting adult behaviour change in family based interventions

The Journal Advances in Mental Health: Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention is calling for papers for a special issue of the journal titled 'Supporting adult behaviour change in family based interventions'. 

The issue will focus on innovations in prevention and early intervention in family-based interventions aimed at supporting positive mental health among children and parents. 

The journal is seeking papers including research articles, case studies and reviews of literature that explores how interventions involving parents and other carers in the family as change agents can influence the functioning of family members across diverse populations, with the aim of furthering the understanding of how to best support the mental health of children and adults.

Learn about the process for making a submission

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In this edition:



Recovery from trauma takes place within a 'relational home'

A new paper has been released as part of the recent series on supporting family recovery developed as a collaboration between Child Family Community Australia and Emerging Minds, through the Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative.

In this paper, Tanya Ward reflects on the importance and value of a 'relational home' as a place for healing and recovery from complex trauma. She argues that a relational home needs to be informed by ecological and family systems approaches that recognise the interpersonal contexts of trauma and recovery.

'Unable to find a relational home as a child, I was unable to process the pain associated with the traumatic experiences I endured until adulthood. My experience of trauma was enduringly traumatic until I found a psychologist – also a fellow trauma survivor – who was able to offer me a relational home.'


The RANZCP's Position Statement on children of parents with mental illness

Earlier this year an updated Position Statement was released by the Royal Australian and New Zeland College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) regarding children of parents with mental illness. The Statement was prepared in response to the RACZCP's concern that many evidence-based interventions, effective preventative steps and supports are not being accessed by parents and families due to stigma, a lack of awareness and limited availability.

'The Statement provides an outlline outline of the factors at play when parents are affected by mental illness, and describes some of the evidence-based approaches that should be available to family and whānau members. It is specifically relevant to psychiatrists, however the information is also intended to inform practice by psychiatry trainees, medical professionals more broadly and other providers of mental healthcare.'


'GEMS' research summaries for professionals

'Gateway to Evidence that Matters' (GEMS) publications are short, two-page research summaries prepared by the COPMI national initiative and leading researchers in the field.

These publications provide a synthesis of available research from Australia and around the world, based on the views and experiences of those researching, working and living with parental mental illness. They are particularly useful to guide and direct practitioners by highlighting current research and practice gaps.

View 23 different GEMS summaries on varied topics related to parents with mental illness, their children and families via the link below. Some recent topics include the concept of family recovery, child and family resilience, the role of fathers, talking about mental illness with children, targeted family interventions, children of parents with dual diagnoses, bipolar disorder, and more. 


Congratulations to winners of the BMA President's Award

Congratulations to the editors and contributors to the resource 'Parental Psychiatric Disorder' (3rd edition). This text has just been awarded the British Medical Association's President's Award in the 'special category' award section. 

In awarding this prize, the immediate BMA past president Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green stated; 'It should be mandatory reading for trainees and practitioners in all professional disciplines in mental health services and in primary care as well as in child health. I commend it unreservedly'.

About the 3rd edition

This text presents an innovative approach to thinking about and working with families where a parent has a mental illness. It includes 30 new chapters from its internationally renowned author team and presents the current state of knowledge in this critically important field.

Issues around prevalence, stigma and systems theory provide a foundation for the book, which offers new paradigms for understanding mental illness in families. The impact of various parental psychiatric disorders on children and family relationships are summarised, including coverage of schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders and trauma. Multiple innovative interventions are outlined, targeting children, parents and families, as well as strategies that foster workforce and organisational development.

Incorporating different theoretical frameworks, the book enhances understanding of the dimensions of psychiatric disorders from a multigenerational perspective, making this an invaluable text for students, researchers and clinicians from many mental health disciplines.


Australia's biggest online mental health CPD event

Emerging Minds and The COPMI national initiative are supporting the biggest online mental health CPD event to be held in Australia - The Mental Health Super Summit 2016.

Hear from award-winning practitioners, researchers and educators via this online event, which will be delivered through 20 live webinar sessions from 6-9 October. It will continue as an on-demand event (i.e. you can watch recorded versions of the live sessions) until Sunday 23 October.

By attending the Summit, you’ll receive a CPD Certificate of Attendance highlighting the 20 hours of learning you’ll have access to. This Certificate can be used towards your annual CPD.

Perhaps the most innovative part of this scenario is that you can decide what you'll pay for the event - and all proceeds go to charity!

Find out more and register



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