It was noted more than 70 years ago that mental illness could affect others in the family (Cowling, 1999). It is difficult to understand and acknowledge what the effects of mental illness might be for the children of a parent with mental illness. In the United States and internationally, mental disorders are common. It is estimated that 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older, or roughly 1 in 4 adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any one year (Administration for Children & Families, 2008).The 2004 U.S. Census estimates that this figure translates to 57 million people (Administration for Children & Families, 2008). In the United States and Canada the leading causes of disability for those ages 15-44 is mental disorder (Administration for Children & Families, 2008). At a given time many individuals will meet the criteria for more than one mental disorder (Administration for Children & Families, 2008). The leading cause of disability worldwide among persons ages 15-44 is major depressive disorder (Administration for Children & Families, 2008).
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’s most current report, “Child Maltreatment 2006,” of the approximately 915,304 child abuse and neglect victims in 2006, the largest percentage of perpetrators (79.9 percent) were parents, including birth parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents. Other relatives accounted for an additional 6.7 percent, residential staff for .2 percent, and day care providers for .6 percent. Unmarried partners of parents accounted for 3.8 percent of perpetrators while foster parent accounted for .4 percent of perpetrators (Administration for Children & Families, 2008).
There have been multiple studies that have shown a relationship between parental mental health and child maltreatment (Dixon, Hamilton-Giachritsis, and Browne, 2005; Walsh, MacMillan, and Jamieson, 2002; Leschied, Chiodo,... [continues]
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