Parental Mental Illness

- 5:23

with Evan Kaplan, Founder and Executive Director of Child and Family Connections


Dec 22, 2017

Compared to 35% of those without children, 65% of adults in the U.S. with a serious mental illness are parents. And while these parents are in need of medical care, many refuse to seek the attention they need in fear of losing custody.  Evan Kaplan, Founder and Director of Child and Family Connections shares a discussion on the resources available to families living with parental mental illness. Interview recorded November 30, 2017. 

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham:  More than one million parents in the United States have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The impact on children? They're twice as likely to live below the Federal poverty level. Hello, and welcome to ""Comcast Newsmakers."" I'm Robert Traynham. With me is Evan Kaplan. He's the founder and executive director of Child & Family Connections. He joins me to discuss how his organization provides emotional support and resources to parents with mental illness. Evan, welcome to the program.

Kaplan: Thank you for having me.

Traynham: You know, I... These stories are always tugging at the heart because I assume that most parents want nothing but the best for their children...

Kaplan: Sure.

Traynham: ...and when there's a bit of a disconnect from an illness standpoint, I'm sure it's devastating, particularly from a mental standpoint.

Kaplan:  Right, absolutely. The statistics and the research tell us that these are families that are in great jeopardy from the point where the child is born -- at risk from birth. They are 76% more likely, as you said, to have food and security, they're three times more likely to either lose custody of their children or be in the custody system. They are twice as likely to be living below the poverty level, and they are 30% to 50% more likely than other children of having a serious mental illness themselves. So they're at great risk.

Traynham: Evan, is it usually one parent -- or perhaps maybe both parents may have the mental illness -- and I guess my question really is, is who in the family structure system -- because clearly the infant might not be able to do this -- is able to raise their hand and says, "Something is not right, something is wrong, We need to seek help?"

Kaplan: Right. Oftentimes nobody does that, and that's one of the things that my organization is working towards. One of the reasons that parents don't come forward and partake in either mental health or social services is the fear of losing custody of their children. It's a very palpable and real fear, obviously, and we're working to reduce custody loss in these families, and to bring parents out, get them into the healthcare system, and build some trust along the way.

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