Objective: Being a parent is an important part of ones identity and role. Previous research outlines many challenges associated with parenting by people with severe mental illness. However, there is a limited research describing parenting experiences of mothers and fathers who have psychosis. Method: The second Australian national survey of psychosis recruited 1825 people living with symptoms of, or a diagnosis of, psychosis. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews and included key clinical and demographic information, as well as parenting specific information. Results: Over half of all women and a quarter of men were parents. Almost a quarter of women but only 5.5% of the men had dependent children (own and/or stepchildren) living at home with them. Of parents with dependent children, the most common diagnosis was schizophrenia (48.2% fathers, 28.9% mothers), and there were high rates of comorbidity with substance abuse/dependence (alcohol: fathers 69.2%, mothers 44.3%; cannabis: fathers 69.22%, mothers 47.8%). A substantial proportion of parents with dependent children experienced challenges including low educational attainment, unemployment, poverty, and social isolation. Although many parents living with dependent children functioned in the average range, a significant proportion was moderately to severely disabled on global independent functioning ratings (fathers 49.1%, mothers 35.7%) and some were identified as having obvious/severe impairments in their ability to care for their child(ren) (fathers 28.3%, mothers 21.3%). Conclusions: Most parents living with psychosis function well. However, a significant proportion has impairments in parenting and general functioning that could have adverse consequences for both the parent and children. This study brings into focus the need for interventions to optimise successful parenting outcomes.
- Mental health
- quality of care