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BART's Place
Appalachian Regional Psychiatric Hospital

Approximately one out of five patients who are hospitalized with a mental illness have children. For children, hospitalization is considered one of the most stressful aspects of coping with a parent's mental illness. When a parent is hospitalized, most experts and families agree that providing children the opportunity to visit their parent is important. Children generally describe hospital visits in positive terms. The program, "Bringing All Relatives Together," serves hospitalized patients who are parents and their children, grandchildren, and siblings who are under age 16.

This program has been recommended as a "Best Practice" by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. It has also been embraced by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Ohio.

BART's Place Services

Inpatient Services: The BART's Place inpatient session is available to all minor (ages 16 and under) relatives of our patients. A licensed psychologist facilitates the inpatient session in collaboration with the hospitalized individual. The information provided to the children and adolescents in this session is tailored to their current developmental level and family circumstances. The intervention focuses on education, support and possible referral information.

Inpatient Education Group: "Communicating with families about mental illness": The inpatient group session is open to all patients currently hospitalized and is facilitated by a psychologist. Group members discuss common questions asked by their children and family members, ways to provide feedback, and community resources available to them after hospitalization.

Individual Consultation: BART's Place psychologists are also available to patients for individual sessions around issues related to their children/minor relatives. The sessions may address a variety of topics including but not limited to parenting skills, role/identity as a parent, managing mental illness in a family context, and talking about mental illness at various age levels.

What to expect when visiting
Children and family members are taken to the visiting area where they will have time to spend with their family members. Prior to the visit the patient and the psychologist have discussed what information they would like to share with their children and family members. There are discussions about what the children understand about their parent's illness, how they can best prepare for the person that will be coming home,and answer any questions they they might have. The rest of the visit is devoted to the patient and their children/family members.
Signs to look for

Commonly reported signs in children:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decline in school work
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety reactions
Protective factors
Protective factors that can decrease the risk to children include:
  • Knowledge that their parent(s) illness and they they are not to blame
  • Help and support from family members
  • Stable home environment
  • Stable caregiver
  • Positive self-esteem
  • Inner strength and good coping skills
  • Positive peer relationships
  • Interest in and success at school
  • Healthy interests outside of the home.