Successful community living for a great many individuals living with mental illness involves family life and parenting. In the past, the focus has often been on who will take care of the adult living with mental illness, rather than on the notion that an adult living with mental illness may be, in fact, taking care of others. The goal of this presentation is to bring attention to the needs of parents living with mental illness and their families, and to offer suggestions for creating opportunities for success in parenting and family life. By doing so, outcomes for both adults and children will be improved. While mental health services are traditionally organized to meet an individual’s needs, recovery can be understood as a process through which the well being, functioning and quality of life of all family members is enhanced. Key concepts and processes of a family recovery model will be discussed. Strategies for advocating for and embracing a family-informed approach will be recommended.
Joanne Nicholson, Ph.D. is a clinical and research psychologist, Professor of Psychiatry at the Psychiatric Research Center of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Dr. Nicholson has established an active program of research on parents with mental illnesses and their families, in partnership with people in recovery. Her team is translating research findings into technology-based applications for parents with mental illness, and evaluating interventions for families, including the pilot Family Options intervention. She is the lead author of Parenting Well When You’re Depressed and the recently released Creating Options for Family Recovery: A Provider’s Guide to Promoting Parental Mental Health. Dr. Nicholson has received funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Alliance for Mental Illness Research Institute, private foundations, and industry sources. In 2006, Dr. Nicholson received the Armin Loeb Award from the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association for her significant career contribution to research in psychiatric rehabilitation. She has been a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow and a NIDRR Switzer Distinguished Research Fellow. She is the 2010 recipient of the UMMS Women’s Faculty Committee Outstanding Community Service Award, and the 2011 recipient of the Katharine F. Erskine Award for Women in Medicine and Science. In 2012, she was named as a Fellow of the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth.