Skip to main content



Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

Database of Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages. The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - March 6, 2018 and is updated quarterly.

Instructions: Postings are listed for browsing with the newest messages first. Click on the linked ID number to see a message. You can search the author, subject, message ID, and message content fields by entering your criteria into this search box:

Message ID: 8706
Date: 2010-12-02

Author:Todd McDonald

Subject:Re: parents with mental illness

It seems that mental health is becoming a greater concern in child welfare. Do others see this shift as well? Are we getting better at recognizing the connections between mental health and child abuse? Are the research universities and funding organizations pushing the field toward mental health? TM --- On Wed, 12/1/10, D F MCMAHON wrote: From: D F MCMAHON Subject: parents with mental illness To: "Child Maltreatment Researchers" Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 7:55 PM As an advisory council member for a 6-county human services system (within state government) I am interested in promoting services geared towards parents with mental illness who are involved with the child welfare system. Some obvious points: Parents with diagnosed mental illness are more likely than other parents to become involved with the child welfare system and to lose custody of their children; Parents may be subject to vague allegations of "unresolved mental health issues" by child welfare professionals and lack adequate resources to ensure that decisions are made based on competent assessment rather than subjective impressions; Parents with mental illness are more likely to be poor, which certainly magnifies other issues, undermines stability, and also creates "basic needs" concerns Much of the literature and consensus regarding parents with mental illness tends to focus on the negative impact; however, research (however limited) does indicate that (for example) parents with chronic mental illness who are also parents caring for children tend to function better than similarly-diagnosed adults who do not have child-rearing responsibilities; To the extent strength are identified, these tend to be separate from the fact of the mental illness; but is it possible that parents with mental illness who receive quality professional services and have good support may have assets directly related to their illness? (e.g. knowledge of navigating systems; empathy and awareness regarding mental health issues). The concern is this: child welfare services (i.e. preservation and reunification services) tend to be child-focused. Further, policy and law general establish that long-term intensive services are not required, and probably not desirable, in order to assure safety and permanency for children. On the other hand, adults with chronic mental illness are likely to require some level of long-term services anyway, so why not incorporate their parenting role into those services? But what is the best way to link parent-centered and child-centered services, including defining relationships (e.g. parent's case manager and child's caseworker)? I have been reviewing legal appeals cases and have noticed that in cases involving parents with intellectual disabilities, agencies have in a number of cases gone to great efforts over a long period of time to provide supports and services to families. The same degree of interest and effort does not appear in cases involving parents with mental illnesses (I have not run into any cases so far involving specific physical disabilities among those available to me). Any information on research (preferably accessible to non-professionals) and model programs would be much appreciated. Sheri McMahon ND

It seems that mental health is becoming a greater concern in child welfare. Do others see this shift as well? Are we getting better at recognizing the connections between mental health and child abuse? Are the research universities and funding organizations pushing the field toward mental health? TM --- On Wed, 12/1/10, D F MCMAHON wrote: From: D F MCMAHON Subject: parents with mental illness To: "Child Maltreatment Researchers" Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 7:55 PM As an advisory council member for a 6-county human services system (within state government) I am interested in promoting services geared towards parents with mental illness who are involved with the child welfare system. Some obvious points: Parents with diagnosed mental illness are more likely than other parents to become involved with the child welfare system and to lose custody of their children; Parents may be subject to vague allegations of "unresolved mental health issues" by child welfare professionals and lack adequate resources to ensure that decisions are made based on competent assessment rather than subjective impressions; Parents with mental illness are more likely to be poor, which certainly magnifies other issues, undermines stability, and also creates "basic needs" concerns Much of the literature and consensus regarding parents with mental illness tends to focus on the negative impact; however, research (however limited) does indicate that (for example) parents with chronic mental illness who are also parents caring for children tend to function better than similarly-diagnosed adults who do not have child-rearing responsibilities; To the extent strength are identified, these tend to be separate from the fact of the mental illness; but is it possible that parents with mental illness who receive quality professional services and have good support may have assets directly related to their illness? (e.g. knowledge of navigating systems; empathy and awareness regarding mental health issues). The concern is this: child welfare services (i.e. preservation and reunification services) tend to be child-focused. Further, policy and law general establish that long-term intensive services are not required, and probably not desirable, in order to assure safety and permanency for children. On the other hand, adults with chronic mental illness are likely to require some level of long-term services anyway, so why not incorporate their parenting role into those services? But what is the best way to link parent-centered and child-centered services, including defining relationships (e.g. parent's case manager and child's caseworker)? I have been reviewing legal appeals cases and have noticed that in cases involving parents with intellectual disabilities, agencies have in a number of cases gone to great efforts over a long period of time to provide supports and services to families. The same degree of interest and effort does not appear in cases involving parents with mental illnesses (I have not run into any cases so far involving specific physical disabilities among those available to me). Any information on research (preferably accessible to non-professionals) and model programs would be much appreciated. Sheri McMahon ND