Support Service for

Families of Mental

Health Clients

North Lee Mental Health Service

Orla Bushnell

A/CNS Family Services NLMHS

Family Therapist in training

Literature Review suggests that families experience:

 Distress

 Confusion

 Anxiety around coping

 Anger

 Fear of the future/unknown

 Gaps in knowledge/information

Families as an important source of information

‘If you want to know me come and live with me ’.

Family members can add depth and context to the presenting problem of a client. Not only by what they communicate to us as mental health professionals but by how they communicate it. I suggest family dynamics can be material in a clients presentation either acting as a trigger or as a consequence to expressed behaviours.

National and

International Policy

 Mental Health Commission (2005) states families indicate that they require support at every stage of an individual’s illness and through the recovery process.

 ‘Quality Framework: Mental Health Services in Ireland’ (2007) suggest that families, parents and carers should be empowered as team members receiving information, advice and support.

 World Health Organisation ‘Promoting Mental Health’ (2005) states interventions that involve only the service user, such as training in social skills are unlikely to change long-term behaviour unless family work is aligned to support a change.

 ‘Vision for Change’ (2006) echoes this sentiment and highlights the need for a framework of care that meets the needs of services users and their families.

Family Support Programme Flowchart

(Part 1)

Tier One :

Name: Family Orientation Meeting . ( FOM )

Target: Adult families of clients admitted to the Unit

Focus: A family’s experience of crisis

Status: Active Based on Carlow/Kilkenny model.

Family Discharge Meeting

Target: Family and client.

Focus: support requirements, concordance & relapse prevention

Status: Pilot

Phone contact

Referral option

Tier Two:

Name: Family Support Group

Target: Families referred from FOM or directly from members of MDT / HBCT / OPD

Status: Active

Focus: Recovery orientated support group

– content is participant driven and guided within the parameters of support through discussion and shared experiences.

Name: Family Support Meetings

Target: Families who require individual support due to specific circumstances.

Status: Active

Focus: Supporting families going through a crisis period due to a members mental health difficulties.


Referred from FOM / MDT / HBCT / OPD

Family Support Programme Flowchart


Name: Family Support Group

Tier Two:

Name: Family Support Meetings

Tier Three:

Name: Family Intervention Meetings

Target: Families in crisis referred from MDT


Sessions: 5 Family Intervention Meetings after initial assessment meeting (6 in total)

Focus on: family communication whilst promoting social functioning, emotional support, familial education and problem solving.

Status: Active

Tier Three:

Name: Individual Family Therapy Sessions

Target: Families/Couples who require and are willing to engage in therapy.

Status: Active.

Focus: Systemic Family/Couple Therapy.

Referrals from the MDT.

Facilitated by: Family Therapist in training.

Retrospective supervision applicable.