What are the family needs when a parent has mental health problems? Evidence from a systematic literature review

Patricia Wahl, Dirk Bruland, Ullrich Bauer, Orkan Okan, Albert Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Problem: Little evidence exists showing how a given high-risk group of children born to parents with poor mental health seek help and how care may be improved in order to better reach and support their families. Methods: A systematic literature review was undertaken to identify the needs and help-seeking behaviors of children and their parents. Through an analysis of both quantitative and qualitative studies, published in German- and English-speaking research literature, the needs of children and parents were identified and categorized. Findings concerning their help-seeking behavior and the influence of demographic variables on needs and help-seeking behaviors were also described. Findings: In the primary studies, the most identified parental needs were “the need for being a good parent”; “worries about the child's well-being”; and “the need for practical help.” For children, the categories identified included “the need for knowledge”; “worries about parent's well-being”; and “the need for normality.” However, information about help-seeking behaviors and influences of demographic factors was fairly limited in the literature. Conclusions: In families with parental mental health problems, it seems especially important to take a family-focused approach. The individual needs of children (and their families) should shape the planning of treatment and nursing care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • children
  • family needs
  • help-seeking behaviors
  • mental health problems
  • parents with mental illness
  • primary prevention


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