Background to the
‘Who Cares?’ Project

Two million young people between 5 and 18 in England have a parent suffering from a mental illness. However there is evidence that when a child can be helped to develop an understandable working model of mental illness, that this can improve their own resilience. This, combined with positive school experiences and challenging of any bullying they otherwise experience, can improve school participation, attendance and attainment.

Ref: Parrott L., Jacobs G., and Roberts D. (2008)

The ‘Who Cares?’ Project provides a fully comprehensive kit of materials and a support system for teachers and students which primary and secondary schools can use to address the needs of young people affected by parental mental illness, as well as the attitudes of others towards them.

 

The Who Cares? Materials:

Using a mixture of drama sequences – highlighting some of the difficulties faced by young carers – video interviews with young carers and advice from professionals, together with written materials, exercises and activities, our programmes promote discussion about the experiences of living with mental illness.

Teen P classroom       Teen P Pills 01       WC mum daughter home
Stills from Who Cares? drama sequences

The packages:

The first package helps teachers and school staff develop skills in identifying children whose parents have a mental illness; helps them understand the nature of mental illness and its impact on children of ill parents, so that that they are better equipped to meet their needs; provides information about other resources, support and specialist help; provides training & information about communicating with children about their parent’s illness and offering understandable explanations; provide training about how to engage the families of affected pupils and provides training & support in the use of the second and third packages.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

The second package is aimed at improving understanding of mental illness, the emotions and fears it arouses and deterring the bullying or targeting of affected young people. It contains curriculum materials for teachers which provide information about how common mental illness is; provide some dramatic representations of ways in which ‘others’ may relate to the families experiencing mental illness; address the fears of young people becoming like an `ill’ person or of `catching the illness’; illustrations of the similarities between parental mental illness and other adversities such as family violence, alcohol and drug misuse, which they may themselves have experienced; provide suggestions for positive ways to respond to children of parents with mental illness and to others who ‘target’ those children.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

The third package is for those children who have a relation suffering from mental illness and help them understand that they are not alone and and that they can share their experiences with others in similar situations. It provides a ‘survival tool kit’ to help them manage situations both at home and at school; includes tips on how to deal with the many professional agencies that they often find so confusing; offers clear explanations of the emotional and neuro-scientific aspects of mental illness, as well as other descriptions and explanations of mental illness – how it develops, what treatments are used, and what conditions affect outcomes; provide ideas about protecting themselves from some of the effects of the parent’s illness, and how to develop their own resilience; giving information about how to access other resources, support and advice.

If you are interested in learning more, or hearing about the distribution of the project when available, please contact us here.

 

The Who Cares? Project is supported by the following Stakeholders group:

Anna Freud Centre, Barnardo’s, British Association of Adoption and Fostering, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Carers Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – Care, Well-being Partnership, The Children’s Society, Family Action, Journal of Public Mental Health, The Kidstime Foundation Trustees, The Kidstime Project, MAST Team Plymouth Excellence Cluster, Newcastle City Council,PSHE Association, Quintin Kynaston School, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of General practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists,  Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, British Paediatric Mental Health Group, Stoke Damerel Community College – Plymouth, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, Team Media, Young Minds.