Stanley, Nicky and Penhale, Bridget
The Mental Health Problems of Mothers Experiencing the Child Protection System: Identifying Needs and Appropriate Responses.
Child Abuse Review, 8
This article presents the findings of a small pilot study which examined the needs of 13 mothers with severe mental health problems whose children were involved in the child protection system. The use of the diagnosis of ‘personality disorder’ in relation to this group of women is discussed and the finding that all these women had experience of domestic violence is considered in the context of other research findings. The extent to which child protection social workers and mental health professionals worked together on these cases was explored and only limited evidence of good communication and collaboration was found. The need for effective inter-professional and inter-agency coordination is argued, but differing conceptions of maternal mental health problems and their relationship to children's needs may make for difficulties in professional communication and decision-making. The article seeks to identify the differing approaches to maternal mental health problems which appear to be developing out of different groups of research studies and argues that practitioners need to be explicit in identifying their perspectives on the associated issues of maternal mental health problems and child protection.