Friday, August 29, 2008

Tehran Times : Children of mentally ill parents need support

The offspring of mentally ill parents are at a higher risk of becoming psychologically disturbed than their peers, according to mental health experts in Germany.
In addition to genetic factors, the chance of developing a mental illness increases depending on the psycho-social stress a child is exposed to.

These children are also likely to experience poverty, discrimination and lack of people to relate to, according to Christa Schaff of the Stuttgart-based Professional Association of Child and Teenager Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy.

Schaff says it's important that affected children receive emotional and psychological support as soon as possible.

The basis for that support is the effective treatment of their parents.

It's also important that the illness is openly dealt with within the family structure because children often blame themselves for their parents' psychological problems, Schaff explains.

In many cases, children do not have the courage or opportunity to talk to someone about mental issues in the family.

Psychotherapy or discussion groups for the offspring of mentally ill parents often provide a good opportunity to get to grips with the situation.

The chance of a child becoming mentally ill depends on the type of illness and the degree to which their parents are affected.

The age at which their father or mother becomes ill also plays a role.

'If one of the parents suffers from depression, their child is four times more likely to suffer from a mental illness at a young age or as a teenager,' says Schaff.

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