ISSN: ISSN: 2471-9900
Increased parental stress has a negative effect on a child’s symptoms, which worsens pathology. No studies have been conducted looking at parental stress for children admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit, and an examination of these stressors may lead to interventions which could benefit the recovery of children with mental illness.
Methods: 66 caregivers of children admitted to the psychiatric unit at Akron Children’s Hospital took a 10-question survey designed by investigators. Demographic information and chart review was conducted, and an additional standardized instrument evaluating parental stress was given to parents with children under age 12.
Results: The average T-score on the Parental Stress Index Short Form for these parents is 59.5, which is in the 80th percentile for parent-child dysfunctional relationship, which indicates high stress. Parents are stressed most about the child’s future, safety of the child and family, balancing the needs of other family members in addition to the child’s need for treatment, confusion about the diagnosis, financial aspects, personal emotional health, and stigma.
Conclusions: This pilot study has a sample size of 66 parents and caregivers, which exceeds previous studies. Our results parallel findings of other studies looking at stress in parents of children admitted to medical units as well as children in outpatient mental health treatment. Parents felt significant distress and lack of confidence, and parental education level did not affect concern about stigma or confusion related to their child’s diagnosis. These results support an intervention for greater parent psycho-education and peer support prior to their child’s discharge.