Press Release

Launch of booklet explaining mental illness to children

Brian Lenihan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Children at the Departments of Health and Children, launches Learning about Mental Illness on 30th November 2004 in the Dublin Castle, Coach House at 12:30pm. Learning about Mental Illness is a new booklet published by Schizophrenia Ireland in association with Barnardos and has been specially designed for children whose parent, brother or sister are experiencing mental ill health. The publishing of the booklet was made possible through a grant from The Ireland Funds.

John Saunders, Director of Schizophrenia Ireland, said “This booklet helps children to understand more about what mental illness really is. We believe that it is important to talk openly about mental illness, and to provide accurate information and support to the entire family. When a parent or sibling experiences mental illness, children in the family are often left without any direct information or education. Undoubtedly, this can be very upsetting and the booklet enables people to discuss the complex subject of mental illness and explain it at a level appropriate for children.”

Owen Keenan, Chief Executive of Barnardos, said “Barnardos is happy to collaborate with Schizophrenia Ireland to produce this very accessible and helpful book aimed at children. It will be a very useful booklet for children, and also for people who work with children who may come into contact with someone in their family or environment experiencing mental illness, and it will help us communicate better with children around these topics.”

Learning about Mental Illness looks at mental health, mental illness, understanding when a person is unwell, and different kinds of treatments. It also explores with the child the many and varied feelings that may arise.

Unfortunately, there are no accurate statistics available in Ireland to identify the number of parents who are experiencing mental ill health and raising children. It is self evident that the combination of poor health and parenting requires special supports for the whole family, and particularly the children involved.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. It is estimated that 1 in 100 people worldwide has schizophrenia. This means that in Ireland alone, there are approximately 39,000 people with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Ireland is the national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of those affected by schizophrenia and their caring relatives. The organisation offers a wide range of services including support groups, telephone information helpline, social and vocational rehabilitation initiatives, suicide prevention programmes and counselling.

Barnardos is Ireland’s largest children’s charity, working with over 12,000 children and parents all over Ireland each year. Barnardos is committed to the best interests of children and young people in Ireland, promoting and respecting their rights.