Psychological Treatments with Children of Parents with Mental Illness: A Systematic Review

Abstract

Background

Several studies have reported that children of parents with mental illness have 41–70% chance of developing mental health problems. This has encouraged an increase in preventive interventions directed at these children.

Objectives

This systematic review aimed to describe preventive psychological interventions addressed to children of parents who are suffering a mental disorder. We identified the aims of these treatments, their approach and components. Sociodemographic characteristics of the subjects and outcomes were examined.

Method

Psycinfo and Pubmed were consulted using the PICO process. We included studies in English or Spanish describing a preventive psychological intervention.

Results

16 studies were included. Most studies were focused on promoting resilience and increasing children's understanding of the parent's disorder. Psychoeducation was included in 87,5% of treatments. Family, multifamily and children group interventions were equally used as approach.

Conclusions

Psychoeducation emerged as an indispensable component of the interventions. Other frequent components comprised skills training, emotional regulation training, and playful activities. Most therapies were carried out in a group setting. Specifically, a multifamily approach is regarded as the most efficient. Most of the studies yielded significant results.

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Correspondence to Eva Tapias.

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Tapias, E., Coromina, M., Grases, N. et al. Psychological Treatments with Children of Parents with Mental Illness: A Systematic Review. Child Youth Care Forum (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-021-09608-2

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Keyword

  • Parental mental illness
  • Mental health
  • Family
  • Child
  • Psychological intervention
  • Prevention