'Who Cares?' Project

There are an estimated 2m young people in the UK significantly impacted- by parental mental illness and who exhibit symptoms such as anxiety, depression and social isolation(Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2010). 
These effects are largely preventable, and even small interventions have been shown to have a significant impact.

Our ‘Who Cares?’ Project has been developed to respond to this need. By working with, and within schools it is able both to reach those children of parents with mental illness requiring direct support, and to create a supportive, knowledgeable and needs-aware environment within the school that perpetuates the support for these young people and those yet to come.

What we do

Our primary goal is to create a model of explanation and understanding which can be used in schools as both a learning tool to inform teachers, school staff and pupils, and to help the children of parents with mental illness.

The aim of the project is therefore to support all school population, with different outcomes:

  • School staff and teachers will increase their confidence to recognise and respond to children of parents with mental illness.

  • Whole-school cohorts will increase the understanding of mental illness and experience a reduction of stigma and bullying amongst peers students.

  • Children affected by a parent with a mental illness will increase resilience through explanations of the illness and treatment and through the development of self-protective strategies.

How we do it

We have got a fully comprehensive kit of materials, including: drama sequences, highlighting some of the difficulties Young Carers needs to face; video interviews with children of parents with mental illness and advice from professionals; lesson plans, written materials, activities and case studies.

 These materials are organised through three packages and distributed through an online platform. They are:

  • An on-line & hands-on training package for teachers and school staff
  • A general classroom package about mental illness
  • A survival skills package for children affected by a parent with mental illness

Each package leads to the next, creating a whole-school intervention. Teacher and school staff are trained and given instruction in how to use both packages for all-school and for Children Of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI), and then supported in creating interventions which fit in with the culture and demographics of the young people whom they teach. They are also guided in developing long-term, in-school support structures in cooperation with COPMI in their care