Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
May 2007 Issue
Current issue (PDF) | Archive | Editorial Contact

How do children view mental illness?


Parents with a mental illness and their children are sought for a University of Adelaide study into how they both view the parent's illness.

PhD student Brooke Ferguson, in the University's School of Psychology, is seeking parents who have a mental illness and are living in the community with at least one child in their care to be interviewed about their understanding of mental illness. She would like to interview both the parent and any children seven years or over.

She hopes her research will help the development of education programs badly needed for children to help them understand and cope with their parent's mental illness.

"A recent report suggests there could be as many as a million children in Australia who have a parent with mental illness," Ms Ferguson said. "But despite this large number, there has been little research into the understanding both parents and children have for the illness they are living with as a family.

"I'm interested in how children describe their parent's illness, what they think are the causes, what they think about the symptoms, their views on whether it can be controlled or cured. And I also want to find out about the parents' understanding of their illness - that too is little researched. This will help us know whether parents with mental illness want their children to be educated about their illness, and how."

Ms Ferguson would like to hear from parents with mental illness including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders.

Parents and children will take part in separate interviews to examine their ideas about aspects of mental illness. All responses will be anonymous. Just parents or just children can be interviewed if desired.

To take part or enquire further, please contact Ms Brooke Ferguson on (08) 8303 3818 or email:

Ms Ferguson is undertaking her PhD under the supervision of Dr Lisa Kettler, psychology lecturer and registered psychologist.

Story by Robyn Mills

Bookmark and Share

Full Image (22.68K)

Media Contact:

Media Office
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

For more news on the research and educational achievements of the University & our alumni read the University's bi-annual magazine, Lumen.