“Critical Issues for Parents with Mental Illness and their Families”

Category: Article Critique


The paper integrates the knowledge regarding an article on parents with mental illness and their families. The effects of parents’ mental illness and family life vary with the age, severity and the duration of the mental illness. It also varies with the nature of any consequent impairment in both physical and mental functions of parents. Under such conditions, the strength and resources of the family can influence the effects of such illnesses in the family. Ignorance and misconceptions about mental illness, pregnancy, parenting, and the way the health sector recognizes and implements services and policies compromises the outcomes for both children and adults (Polit & Beck, 2008). According to the article, innovative and promising programs have been developed to enhance positive outcomes for both parents and children.

Evaluation of Methods

The article does not give comprehensive national data on the frequency with which adults with mental illnesses bear and care for their children. The article draws information from existing data sources. However, most of these data provide limited information in terms of study rationale and methods. For example, in its presentation, large scale descriptive information about the characteristics of children whose parents have mental illness are not available. For instance, the article does not give an outline of where these families live and in whose custody are they. Comparing the data used in the article and the data from other sources, it is obvious that the article provides less comprehensive information. For example, according to the National Co-Morbidity Survey 2012, about a third of American women fifth of men gave evidence of psychiatric disorders in the past one year (Polit & Beck, 2008). Sixty-four percent of American women and fifty-two percent of the men are fathers. Both men and women who are mentally ill are less likely to become parents as compared to those without the disorder. The majority of adults diagnosed with mental illness were parents.

This data exhibit serious contradictions. The data show that there is a high rate of parents with mental illness in the United States. At the same time, it shows that those who are mentally ill are less likely to become parents. Moreover, the information the article presents about the experience of parents with mental disabilities in the past years is based on small sample research. The research reports mainly on mothers with severe mental disorders in public sectors but not private sector. It also emphasizes on challenges like poverty and ethnic minority conditions. This is not sufficient because mental illness affects the rich and the majority in our society. The article portrays very little information about the experiences of parents whose diagnoses fall under the full spectrum mental disorders. While the experiences of parents with mental disorders are the same with those of all parents in many ways, the literature review of the article has emphasized only on their unique circumstances. More specifically, the article has embarked largely on the deficits and disadvantages of children with mental disabled parents. This issue revolves around the society. It includes the spouse, the child, family and the entire society. In such cases, we expect the author to expound further the effects of such disorders to the entire society, but not just the child and the mother (Polit & Beck, 2008).

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Some of the issues the article emphasized include the following. The first one is the higher number of mentally ill women who have unplanned pregnancies. The second disadvantage is that mothers with mental disorders have high rates of reproductive loss. This includes miscarriage, stillbirths and induced abortion. Parents with mental disabilities may be vulnerable to loosing the custody of their kids. According to the data presented in the article, between 70 and 80 percent of parents with mental disabilities lose custody of their children. Parents with mental incapacity in most cases blame themselves for their children’s difficulties. This is more frequent in such families as compared to families where parents are mentally healthy. People with mental illness are likely to live without partners. The above shortcomings of mentally disabled parents are correct. However, the findings still contradict some of the other critical issues highlighted in the article. For example, if it is true that the majority of mentally disabled mothers loose pregnancy, then it is not logical to have a big percentage of mentally disabled women who are mothers (Polit & Beck, 2008).

Parents and their service providers recognize the needs generic to all parents and those that are specific to the parents’ illness. However, the article provides very little information about mentally disabled parents who are receiving relevant services in private sectors. The article does not clearly indicate the general needs such as transportation, employment, social and recreations activities, child care, and the mothers’ care among other services. The article does not provide enough information about the illness-related requirements. This includes financial and emotional resources required to manage symptoms, implement treatment and maintain the relationship with the help of professionals. The paper does not outline the stigma associated illness (Polit & Beck, 2008). The stigma expressed by mentally disabled parents is one of the most pervasive factors that affect parents in accessing and participating in services.

The literature in the article should identify effective interventions that sustain children with mental disabled parents. The article fails to explain some of the key issues. To begin with, it fails to produce enough evidence regarding parental mental health issues as a major risk factor for child abuse and neglect. The research article does not explain the impacts of parenting by mentally disabled on the child’s development. The article does not look at the factors that either reduce or increase the likelihood of adverse consequences of the parents’ mental illness on the children’s development. The article is supposed to review the factors to be taken into account when conducting a risk assessment under the context of parental mental issues. Any comprehensive article should provide a recommendation of strategies, which can help to solve the issue of the discussion. The article does not provide effective strategies and intervention. The authors of the article fail to offer extensive strategies on how to support the affected children and ensure that they are safe all the time. The article does not provide effective strategies that should be applied to support parents with mental illness. Lastly, it does not provide a clear long-term strategy on how to reduce the number of vulnerable children with mentally challenged parents (Polit & Beck, 2008).

The extensive research of the article effectively provides some of the best solutions on how to curb the problem. For example, the paper gives a clear outline on the programs that can help parents with mental illness and their families. In the article’s reflection on the ongoing innovative and promising programs across the world, the article provides extensive information that gives the solution of the problems. Even though the number of programs that help mentally disabled parents are few worldwide, but the article provides an insight and encourage health sectors to start more programs. Such programs develop from the recognition that traditional services do not address the needs of mentally disabled parents and their families. This does not only promotes the awareness, but it also encourages several communities to start such programs in order to help both the vulnerable children and their parents. The article has also managed to address the needs of families where the mentally disabled parents come. This is important because such needs tend to be complex and sensitive. The extensive literature review provide with a clear picture on how to find a long lasting solution to the problem. This is due to the fact that many programs are extremely diverse in terms of service provision and intervention policies. The article presents different approaches to the work of the programs. This provides different insights on how to a community set up can choose to run on its program in a unique way. This extensive literature review shows that most of the programs across the world have limited resources (Polit & Beck, 2008).

For any health program to succeed, the role of stakeholders becomes essential. The article identifies the stake holder's role in running the program to help the mentally disabled parent to be an important factor. Through the stakeholders, it is easy to recognize parents with mental disabilities. Stakeholders will in recognizing the strength and abilities of parents with mental disorders. Stakeholders are able to help in fighting the stigma associated with mental disabled parents. They will attend the process of termination of parental rights, custody and visitation issues (Polit & Beck, 2008).

Evaluating Conclusion and Recommendations

Even though the research article is based limited resources, its conclusion is comprehensive. The article provides update recommendations on how to assist mentally disabled parents, their children and families. The recommendations are unique, universal and applicable in most situations. The article proposes that any program should obtain national prevalence data on the status of mentally disabled parenting (Polit & Beck, 2008). This should include fathers, mothers and their families. The article also proposes the use of identifying factors that contribute to the parents’ success and consequently reduce their children’s risk. In its recommendations, the article indicates the need to explore the experience of children whose parents have mental disorders. The statistics on the current treatment, rehabilitation and advocacy should also be explored. Any program should provide opportunities for subjective reporting to children of different ages and developmental stages. From the article’s content, it can be concluded that the research has been conducted on the prevalence of child abuse and neglect among families in which parents have mental illness. Even though the resources used in the article are limited, the article gives a clear picture of what children whose parents are mentally disabled go through (Polit & Beck, 2008).

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