Self-directed parenting programmes for bipolar disorder

As we all know, parenting can be both a rewarding and stressful experience. For parents who also have bipolar disorder, their symptoms can sometimes make parenting even more of a struggle.

A lot of previous research looking at parenting and mental health highlights the negative outcomes for both the parent with bipolar disorder and their children. We have just completed an interview study of parents and children. The aim of this research was to develop an understanding of the experience of families where a parent has bipolar disorder, in order to contribute to the development of support and interventions for future families who might need it.

We feel it is important to recognise the strengths of parents with bipolar disorder as well as any difficulties; the positive experiences they have as well as the negative, in order to provide a more balanced perspective. This was done by carrying out interviews with parents who have bipolar disorder.

We also hope to gain children's experiences of family life. This can provide useful and important information, which is often forgotten in research. This was done via a computer package designed for children which is regularly used by health professionals to interview children called In My Shoes.

Following on from this, we also ran an online study and found that an online parenting programme led to significant improvements for families with a parent with bipolar disorder.

Outputs from the research

Jones, S, Calam, R, Sanders, M, Diggle, PJ, Dempsey, R, Sadhnani, V. (2013) A pilot web based positive parenting intervention to help bipolar parents to improve perceived parenting skills and child outcomes. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 42(3) 283-296 doi: