Addressing the support needs of families during the acute hospitalization of a parent with mental illness: A narrative literature review

Karen P. Foster, Danny Hills, Kim N. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Hospitalisation of a parent with acute mental health problems impacts the consumer, their extended family/carers and children. Mental health nurses are at the forefront of promoting recovery for consumers in an acute inpatient setting. Recovery-oriented care can include provision of family-focused care which supports recovery of the parent-consumer and their family members and contributes to prevention of intergenerational mental illness. The aim of this narrative literature review was to explore existing knowledge regarding the experiences, care and support needs of parent-consumers, their family members/carers and children during the parent's acute mental health hospitalisation. It also aims to explore existing knowledge about the practices of mental health nurses providing care to this consumer group, to inform future healthcare practice and strengthen parent, child and family outcomes. Nineteen published studies addressed the review questions. In the context of hospitalisation, the majority of research regarding parenting with a mental illness is focused on mothers. Parents reported experiencing stigma during their hospitalisation. Separation from children was a concern for parents and their extended family, but admission provided an opportunity for the parent to receive treatment and for the family to receive support. Mental health nurses did not always identify parental status on admission. When parental status was identified, nurses reported issues regarding logistics and practicalities of using family rooms, children visiting the unit, and their own professional knowledge and organisational support regarding familyfocused care. Implications for practice are identified, highlighting how mental health nurses can develop their practice to support the recovery of parent-consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-482
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • family-focused care
  • hospitalisation
  • mental illness
  • parents with mental illness
  • recovery

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