Help for children of mentally ill parents

After the autumn holidays, Caritas will launch a free help service for children between 7 and 12 years old, whose parents or one of their parents are mentally ill, for the 17th time.

Jana Wenzel, Marco Auernigg and Hans-Peter Stock (left) present the free offer for affected children in the city and district of Giessen. Photo: Jahn

GIESSEN – to water (lja) Helping children of mentally ill people to deal with their parents’ illnesses – this is the goal of the children’s group for children of mentally ill parents of the Gießener Caritas Association. For the 17th time, the group for children between 7 and 12 years with at least one mentally ill parent from the city or district of Giessen will begin this autumn. The praiseworthy project is now also receiving support from the district: They want to take over the transport for children from the district.

In 20 sessions beginning after the autumn break through to the Easter break in 2022, the participants should learn to understand their parents’ illnesses in an age-appropriate manner. The aim is to relieve the children and take away potential fears. Often children of mentally ill parents would blame themselves for the pathological behavior of their father or mother. Jana Wenzel, who is responsible for the psychosocial contact and advice center of Caritas together with Anna Schlapp, explained this. The little ones are often irritated by the behavior of their sick parents or the topic is taboo in the family. This is where the children’s group wants to start and provide assistance by getting to know different clinical pictures. Materials such as an “emergency kit” should also help the children.

The free offer is divided into several parts. First of all, feelings should be explored in general, before various clinical pictures are conveyed in a playful way in a psycho-educational part. Life with a mentally ill family member is also discussed. A total of three conversations will also take place with the parents. An open approach to the disease is expected in order to participate.

The prevention aspect is also in focus. After all, children of mentally ill people have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves, as Marco Auernigg from the social psychiatric service at the district’s health department explained. The sick parents could potentially also be introduced to offers of help through the youth group. However, the focus is initially on the most barrier-free possible way to provide help for affected children. This area has to be “practically considered”, as Auernigg emphasizes. This has been done successfully in the Caritas children’s group for a long time, and the offer is always well received. The children’s group is supported by donations, especially the Lions Club Burg Gleiberg is very committed to supporting the children.

Also due to the hardly foreseeable consequences of the corona pandemic in the psychological area, especially among younger people, the district wants to become more involved, as the responsible social affairs officer Hans-Peter Stock explained. The Caritas project is already a “great contribution to prevention”. Good educational work is also done for mutual understanding.

Interested parties can contact the psychosocial contact and advice center of the Caritas Association in Giessen on 0641 / 7948-119.



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