Non-Parent Adults and Children of Parents With a Mental Health Problem
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Children who have a parent with a mental health problem are a population that has been shown to be at risk of adverse life experiences and outcomes, such as mental health concerns of their own and ambiguous, non-finite feelings of grief and loss that arise out of their family circumstances. These feelings and adverse outcomes may occur when parents are emotionally or physically distant and unable to provide continuous and predictable emotional care. I argue that these feelings of grief and loss can be mitigated by the short and long-term involvement of non-parent adults, who have an influence from one of the bio ecological systems that influence the lives of these children. Studies, as well as evidence from cultures around the world, have shown that the active involvement of non-parent adults can, over time, create a protective or buffering effect that has a beneficial impact on children's lives, minimizing feelings of grief and loss as well as reducing risk of other adverse outcomes. In addition to the influence of key non-parent individuals, programs and social supports can create these benefits. Interactions between children and non-parent adults can be the basis for both programs and for individual, informal supports that mitigate the effects of parental mental health problems on children and help build resilience.