Infants of Parents with Mental Illness: Developmental, Clinical, Cultural and Personal Perspectives

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During the last 100 years infant mortality rates have improved dramatically, yet even in a developed country such as Australia the physical health of infants varies greatly, despite advances in science and technology. It has now become clear that emotional and physical development is affected by many different variables. Not only must physical development and health support be adequate, but the presence of factors such as good-enough parenting, and the absence of others such as substance abuse and domestic violence, are now becoming better understood. So how best to work with families where infants are at risk? This is the substance of this book: to understand how to achieve improved outcomes for infants growing up in situations of risk, mainly in the area of the parents' mental health, but also in other related psychosocial circumstances that may impair parental functioning. These include migration, substance abuse, and infant hospitalisation. Throughout this book, the authors examine the effects of adverse life circumstances on infant and family and, in most cases, also describe assessments and interventions. Several chapters have been written by people personally affected by mental illness, or mental illness of a family member. This provides in-depth and often poignant understanding of the perspective of those living with the effects of such illnesses, and helps to expand our knowledge and skills to work with at-risk families.