Health and Social Care Professionals' Family Focused Practice with Parents who have Mental, Illness, their Children and Families in Northern Ireland - Literature Review

Gavin Davidson, Susan Lagdon, Anne Grant, Joseph Duffy, John Devaney, Mary Donaghy, Karen Galway, Gerry Leavey, Clare Mc Cartan

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Parental mental illness and/or substance misuse are major public health issues. It is the fact that parents’ mental health and/or substance misuse problems may impact on children and children’s experiences and difficulties may impact on parents that makes family relationships such an important focus for clinicians, managers, researchers and policy makers (Beardslee, Solantus, Morgan, Gladstone, & Kowalenko, 2012; Falkov 2012). At a broad systems level, initiatives have been introduced in Northern Ireland to promote health and social care professionals’ response to families when parents have mental illness and/or substance misuse issues. However, multiple barriers to family focused practice exist, and there is a need to prioritise evaluation of the impact of initiatives on health and social care professionals’ practice as well as clinical outcomes for parents, their children and families (Falkov et al., 2016). Organisational and policy development is often context specific and therefore should be responsive to local needs and workforce and professional training frameworks (Cusack & Killoury, 2012) so rigorous, systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the Think Family initiatives in Northern Ireland is required. Moreover, acquiring a good understanding of health and social care professionals’ perspectives is a crucial element in capacity building for better family focused practice (Falkov et al., 2016; Grant, Goodyear, Maybery, & Reupert, 2016). Furthermore, a fundamental requirement for improving family focused practice is ensuring the service user and families’ voice is heard, and incorporated into education and training as well as service design and delivery (Nicholson, Wold, Wilder, & Biebel, 2014). In 2016 the Health and Social Care Board commissioned Queen’s University Belfast in conjunction with Ulster University to benchmark health and social care professionals’ family focused practice in adult mental health and children’s services from multiple perspectives (i.e. health and social care professionals and service users). The information generated will provide helpful evidence on the current state of Think Family service delivery Initiatives and establish a platform to inform ongoing evaluation of family focused service initiatives. This report has two aims, 1), to present contextual information underpinning the wider project and, 2) to present and discuss findings of a systematic review conducted in the first phase of the project. The first part of the report, which presents the context of the wider project, is divided into a number of sections. The first section commences by highlighting the impacts of parental mental illness and substances misuse on families and children. The remaining sections detail the underlying context to the study including prevalence of parental mental illness and substance misuse in the UK and Northern Ireland, policy developments and on-going work addressing parental mental illness in the UK and Northern Ireland and a discussion around further understanding of family focused practice, including what family focused practice should entail and its benefits in reducing negative outcomes for the whole family. Barriers and enablers of family focused practice in the workforce are also detailed. Following on from this, the second part of the report presents and discusses findings of the systematic review. Finally the report comes to a close by drawing implications for research, policy, practice and education and by outlining the research questions that the wider project seeks to address.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherHealth and Social Care Board
Commissioning bodyHealth & Social Care Board
Number of pages123
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


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