“Mental health flows in both directions, not just downhill from parent to child,” said Peter S. Jensen, MD, founder and board chair of The REACH Institute. The effects on children when caregivers suffer from mental health problems are well documented (see Resources below). Another pattern is that parents and children can share an inherited tendency toward the same disorder. Furthermore, a child’s struggles can trigger disorders such as depression or anxiety in a caregiver. “Blaming parents for their children’s mental health issues is not only a tactical mistake,” said Dr. Jensen, “it’s also simply incorrect.” Pediatric practitioners have to tread carefully when they suspect that the caregiver of a child they are treating has mental health issues.
“Every pediatric and family practice resident should be required to take this course! I will take away a renewed appreciation for assessment tools, a new comfort with treatment plans, and an excitement for future partnerships”