Parent focus group for Honest, Open, Proud07/26/18 12:59:pm
Rogers InHealth recently conducted focus groups to learn about parents’ experiences when disclosing the mental health challenges of their children, with the hopes of informing the development of a new version of the program for parents of teens and young adults.
The May focus groups gathered a geographically and demographically diverse set of people, including foster parents and guardians. Participants had children with a range of mental health challenges and treatment histories, so they were able to share numerous factors weighing on their disclosure decisions. The study was a success, according to Sarah Reed, PhD, program lead.
“They were incredibly talkative, willing to share their experiences of public and self-stigma, and grateful for the opportunity to connect with other parents whose children also lived with mental health challenges,” Dr. Reed says.
The information gathered will be used to craft a program for parents to help them make wise decisions related to sharing the story of their child’s mental health challenges, treatment, and recovery—including when or if they should disclose the information. They will also receive tips for addressing internalized stigma and stigma they experience from others.
“It was heartbreaking to hear that much of the public stigma they experienced took the form of criticism directed at their parenting practices,” she says.
Many of the parents also held beliefs that their child’s struggles were due to them being bad or ineffective parents. Dr. Reed continued by saying these beliefs are magnified further if the parent has multiple children with mental health struggles, issues with their own mental health, or have family members who are attributing blame to them.
A condensed version of Honest, Open, Proud will soon be included in Parent University, according to Dr. Reed.