Mental health is the embodiment of social, emotional and spiritual well-being. It provides individuals with the vitality necessary for active living as well as the ability to achieve goals and interact with one another in ways that are respectful and just.
Between 1995 and 2000, cases of depression alone, increased in Canada by 36% (Source: La Presse, 15 avril 2001). In Canada, it is estimated that one out of five people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at least one time in their lives. (Source: Kirbe, M. & Kirby, 2004). Of those, 71% are parents of one or more children (Source: Nicholson et Al., 2004).
Children of parents with a mental illness have much higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems than the general population. Between 25% and 50% of these children are likely to experience some psychological disorder (Farrell et al 1999).
When mental illness strikes a close family member, it is easy to see how a child's world can crumble. Unable to take care of their own needs, the child is often the most severely touched by these situations, and more often than not, the first forgotten. Referred to as 'the invisible children', they suffer in silence, and deal with various emotions such as sadness, shame, confusion, fear and uncertainty.
Health and education practitioners recognize the need to bolster self-esteem and counter negative influences in children having mentally ill parents. Until now, programs specifically tailored to target these needs were virtually non-existent in Quebec.
The need for this type of intervention, especially for younger children, is urgent as they are at their most vulnerable to developing maladaptive patterns that are known to be related to depression and poor school development.