Talking about anxiety and depression with kids

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Australian mental health professionals are encouraging parents with depression or anxiety to talk with their children about their illness with a free DVD to help get them started.

“Depression and anxiety affects the whole family. Children will notice changes in their parent but won’t necessarily understand and that’s why it’s important to talk about it with them,” said Mr Phil Robinson, Chair of the Australian Infant Child Adolescent and Mental Health Association.

The new DVD, Family Focus, is now available to help parents talk about their depression and anxiety with their family.

“Family Focus is a huge step forward in mental health prevention. When parents talk openly about mental illness with their children, they are much more resilient to developing mental health problems themselves,” said Mr Robinson.

Federal Minster for Mental Health Mark Butler said it’s estimated that over a million children live in families where a parent has depression or anxiety.
“Up to 23 per cent of children live in a household where mental illness is experienced and these children face some unique challenges,” Mr Butler said.
“We know that these children are at greater risk of developing a mental health or substance abuse issues.”

Associate Professor Michael Baigent, psychiatrist and Board Director of beyondblue said: “A dilemma many parents face is deciding whether to talk about their experiences of depression and anxiety with their children; and if so, what they should say.

“Family Focus highlights the importance of talking about mental illness with children and helps parents start the conversation.

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“This DVD is the first Australian resource of its kind that helps parents communicate with their children about their mental illness”, Associate Professor Baigent said.

Family Focus was developed in collaboration with Australian psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and researchers, and Australian parents and children with lived experience of parental depression/anxiety.

“Family Focus is a resource that has been tested to improve outcomes for children and families where a parent has depression or anxiety,” said Mr Robinson.

Source: Beyond Blue 

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Date Created: January 21, 2013