Parenting and Mental Illness

A mental health diagnosis does not necessarily preclude a parent from being designated the primary residential caretaker, having parenting time or being allocated decision-making responsibility.  The issue isn’t the illness itself but how the illness impacts that parent’s ability to identify and meet the needs of his or her children on a consistent basis.  If the parent fails to manage her illness and symptoms, fails to understand her triggers, fails to utilize tools and coping skills or fails to understand and meet the needs of her child, there is reasonable cause for concern.  If however, the parent is responsible, able to manage his diagnosis and symptoms, has a history of follow through, utilizes community and professional supports, actively engages in an appropriate treatment plan, understands and demonstrates the ability to meet his children’s needs – there’s no reason the diagnosis alone should preclude or limit his parental involvement.  And that’s good news for the kids.