Children who have a parent with mental illness are afraid
Child welfare systems focused on “protection” and mental health stigma that correlate mental illness and violence converge in framing experiences of children who have a parent with mental illness as experiences of fear, neglect and abuse. The best way to understand a child’s experience is to ask them questions and to listen to what they say. In many cases, children who have a parent with mental illness are worried. It is also true that we don’t know enough about the experiences of children who have a parent with mental illness because all too often – we do not ask them.
The Blue Polar Bear by Samantha Tidy, an Australian children’s book that is publicly available on the web, provides a great resource for conversations with children about their feelings, including any worry they may be having for their parent. This is also a great example of why age appropriate literature for people who have a parent with mental illness is important.