The ‘WHO CARES?’ Project

The unique in-school project helping children of parents with a mental illness

This project is aimed to create a model of explanation and understanding of mental illness, to reduce stigma, to define and create the support needed by the children whose parents suffer mental illness.

“My dad was diagnosed with depression when I was 13 … I did a mental health assembly, and we watched Who Cares? videos and discussed it in drama… I thought ‘that was me’… It is nice to see someone in your situation and watch what they do… …Everything has changed for me because I have opened up and told my stories…  Schools need to realise that something needs to be in place in school time, not just afterwards because you might have to be at home to look after your mum or dad. It’s important to have some space, somewhere, some time. I didn’t have that for a long time…”        Joel, 15

There is evidence that when children can be helped to develop a way of understanding mental illness it can improve their own resilience. Understanding combined with positive school experiences and the opportunity to challenge negativity from peers and others, can improve school attendance, participation, and attainment.

Schools have reported that the Who Cares? Project also improves the overall school atmosphere, with increased confidence in both affected children and peer group relationships across the school.

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The Who Cares? programme

Our primary goal in developing the programme was to create a model of explanation and understanding which could be used in schools as both a learning tool, to inform teachers and pupils, and to help the children of parents with mental illness.

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.

All of our materials have been created in cooperation with health professionals, young people and school staff.

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

If you are interested in learning more about bringing the Who Cares? Project to your school, 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.