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Initiatives

The idea of family centered practice in mental health is beginning to become more recognized both in Canada and abroad. While there is no national policy in Canada on families and mental health, in June, 2013 the Mental Health Commission of Canada released the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses.

On a provincial level, British Columbia has taken the lead by releasing a new provincial document called Families Matter: A Framework for Family Mental Health in British Columbia. There are several family centered initiatives underway in the province that have occurred in collaboration with people with lived experience, non-profit organizations and government.

Australia has a national policy on Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) which has led to numerous programs and initiatives throughout the country. The Netherlands has a policy on mental health prevention which includes a systemic network of child and family programs across the country. Of note, in both the Netherlands and Norway, when a parent is diagnosed with a mental illness, it is automatic that the child receive services to explain what a mental illness is, and to promote family discussion.

Additionally, the Fourth International Conference on Families with Parental Mental Health Challenges was held in Berkeley, California in April, 2014. This conference brings together professionals working in the field of mental health, family members and other stakeholders in the area of parental mental health to advance the rights and highlight the needs of families striving to live well with parental mental health challenges. The next one is expected to take place in Europe in 2016.