Think Family - Whole Family

Think Family - Whole Family: Parental Mental Illness

Parental mental illness (PMI) is a significant public health issue with a very high prevalence that has potential impacts not only for the ill parent, but for all family members including children and young people.

Around 15% of dual-parent families and 20% of single-parent families in the UK are estimated to include a parent with a mental illness. Most parents with a mental illness manage to cope most of the time despite the added difficulties of working, raising children and managing the symptoms of their illness. It is, however, an added burden for many families who are already struggling.

There remains considerable stigma associated with mental illness, it is often not well understood by families, and having a mentally ill parent can cause stress and anxiety for their children – something that can interfere with their attendance and engagement at school.

There is a sub-population of children of mentally ill parents who have caring responsibilities as a result of their parent's illness, and they are less likely than other young carer populations to be known to services or to receive support. An important minority of families go on to experience more significant problems with their quality of life, family relationships, children's social and cognitive development, and the onset of mental health problems in children and young people themselves.

PMI is therefore not an issue that can be tackled effectively by mental health services alone. We believe there is a need for effective support for all members of families affected by PMI across the services and institutions with which they have contact – particularly schools, where young people spend a significant portion of their time and where many aspects of their struggles manifest.


Programme Details

For the reasons outlined above, the Leicestershire Healthy Schools Programme have partnered with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and De Montfort University to deliver a comprehensive programme that will support schools to effectively manage pupils who are impacted by their parents or carers mental illness.

The programme, that will be made of up of four separate cohorts and is free of charge, is set to Launch on 1st September 2021. Each participant on the programme will:

  • Have an opportunity to participate in valuable research that will explore current practice in schools, the challenges your school faces and the support and resources you require to manage pupils with PMI effectively (*Cohort 1 only)
  • Receive 1.5 days of high-quality Think Family - Whole Family (Parental Mental Illness) training, developed and delivered by Dr Lina Gatsou and Dr Scott Yates
  • Receive ongoing support and supervision sessions that are delivered in accordance with school-staff training and development needs
  • Up to two supervision sessions available for each cohort to reflect on development, share learning and enhance school-based staff practice
  • Think Family - Whole Family (Parental Mental Illness) resources. The updated resources will be made available in print and electronic versions to all participants to be easily shared with wider school-staff

Programme Delivery, by:

Dr. Lina Gatsou

Dr. Lina Gatsou

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (LPT CAMHS)

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

Dr. Scott Yates

Dr. Scott Yates

Associate Professor in Psychosocial Studies

De Montfort University (School of Applied Social Sciences)


Healthy Schools Plus Award in PMI Awareness (Think Family - Whole Family)

All participants that complete the full Think Family - Whole Family Programme will be eligible to receive the Healthy Schools Plus Award for their school.

This award showcases the schools achievements and commitment in supporting all pupils that may be affected by their parents or carers mental wellbeing status. On achievement of this award, the school will receive:

  • a HS+ Certificate in PMI Awareness (Think Family - Whole Family)
  • HS+ Digital Toolkit
  • HS+ Physical Toolkit
  • 2-year Licensed use of HS+ media for promotion
  • School recognition on HS Website

Please see the Think Family Process Guide below for full details.