The aim of FamilyRecovery.ca is to make information about Parental Mental Illness (PMI), Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) and Young Carers available to those who need it throughout Canada.
Although the information on this website may be of benefit to all family members, the specific focus is on children of parents with mental illness. This is because children can be profoundly impacted by the experience of parental mental illness and this group has been largely underrepresented in the field of mental health. Many have never talked about their experiences because they fear others can’t relate, that people will judge them, and also because they share the stigma experienced by their parent who has a mental illness. Despite the fact that mental illness may be central to the lives of these young people, it is common to hear that nobody has ever attempted to explain what the diagnosis means or how it will impact their family. Often, children of parents with mental illness feel a profound sense of responsibility for their parent’s well-being, a sense of isolation since stigma prevents discussion about mental illness, and extreme guilt at their sometimes negative emotion towards the behavior that mental illness manifests.
Rebecca Heinisch of the Anna and the Sea Association in Quebec states, “Children of parents suffering from a mental illness do often have one thing in common. They feel they are responsible for their parents’ illness and they think they are able and even obliged to assist them. It is of capital importance to soften this sense of guilt and to help them understand that it is not their responsibility to cure their parents. Also, it is crucial to support these children in building a new way of thinking in which they are allowed to develop their own potential without believing they are abandoning or betraying their parents. It is also important to encourage these children to persist in activities that value them. This way they will develop a greater self-esteem that will act like an important protecting factor during the rest of their life” (Heinisch, 2014).
It is hoped that FamilyRecovery.ca will serve as an information hub for Canadians. This website pulls together information, initiatives and organizations that already exist provincially, nationally and internationally in an attempt to draw from work that has already been done in the areas of Parental Mental Illness (PMI), Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) and Young Carers.
Heinisch, R. (2014, October 19). “Anna and the Sea”: From Canada, A Beautiful Book for Children of Parents with a Mental Illness. Retrieved from My Mother has Bipolar: http://miamadrebipolare.blogspot.it/p/anna-and-sea-from-canada-beautiful-book.html