The impact of parental psychiatric disorder on children

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7409.242 (Published 31 July 2003)
Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:242

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  1. Paul Ramchandani (paul.ramchandani@psych.ox.ac.uk), MRC training fellow in health services research,
  2. Alan Stein, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry
  1. University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX

    Avoiding stigma, improving care

    Four decades ago Michael Rutter in a seminal monograph highlighted risks to the development of children of parents with a psychiatric disorder.1 Since then a good deal of research has been focused on these children and their parents. However, policy to help and support these families has lagged behind. Two recent reports by national bodies in Australia and the United Kingdom have belatedly provided some important recommendations.2 3 None the less, much remains to be done both in policy terms and in the development of evidence based interventions.

    Several common psychiatric disorders—including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders—affect adults of child rearing age. These disorders have been shown notably to impair social and psychological functioning, leading to difficulties in work and family life.4 In recent years recognition has increased of the potential impact that parental psychiatric disorder can have …

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