Development of a program to help parents better support the mental health needs of their children

In a given year, 14% of children aged 4 – 17 will experience a mental health problem, yet few will seek help from a medical professional. Parents and guardians are often fundamental to young people obtaining access to care, however their attitudes and awareness can influence if and when care is sought.  Although parents tend to be aware of help-seeking options for young people in distress, their confidence in facilitating referral to care or in recognising the signs of mental illness is typically low due to a lack of intervention programs in this area. Recent focus groups conducted with parents identified the need for more targeted education in the identification, referral, and support of young people. Therefore, there is a need to develop an accessible online program targeted specifically to the needs of parents. The program developed from this research will aim to empower parents to better support the mental health needs of their children by being able to readily identify if there is a problem, knowing how to effectively respond to a problem and confidently access external care and support when needed. The developed program will be evaluated to determine effectiveness.