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New therapy offer for mentally ill parents and their families

14. January 2020

Mental illness can be a heavy burden on families – mentally ill parents are often so burdened that they are no longer up to the task of bringing up children, so family worries and disputes are part of everyday life. Children of mentally ill parents have a significantly higher risk of becoming ill themselves. A nationwide project, in which the research group Schmitz is also involved, would like to provide targeted support to mentally burdened parents and their families.

Approximately three to four million children in Germany live with a mentally ill parent. This entails many risks for the children, such as poorer school performance and behavioural problems. As far as the passing on of mental illness between generations is concerned, studies have shown that children of parents with anxiety disorders, for example, tend to develop an anxiety disorder themselves. Such processes are known as transmission mechanisms. These are well researched in diseases such as depression or anxiety disorders, but there are still no studies on other mental illnesses. In addition, little research has been done on how psychotherapeutic services can be used to prevent the transmission of mental illnesses between generations.

The COMPARE study wants to start at this point and go one step further. In addition to the study goal of investigating the effects of parental psychotherapy on children, parent training is offered for the ill parent. In this effective parent training, which has already been tested many times, the parenting skills are to be strengthened and everyday situations in the family are to be discussed. The study is intended to provide better support for affected families and children of mentally ill parents in the future.

For the study, mentally ill parents are sought who would like to take up outpatient psychotherapy and are willing to participate in the study. Parents who have one or more children between the ages of 1.5 and 16 are eligible to participate. The child/children themselves should not currently be undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment. The costs will be covered by the health insurance. If you are interested in participating and/or have questions about the study, please send an e-mail to compare@uni-leipzig.de (telephone contact: 0341 9735991).

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Madlen Bartholmeß
Phone +49 (0) 341 97 31 870