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Siblings' stories of the mental distress of their parents

It is estimated that in the UK alone over 2 million children are living with a parent who has a common mental health disorder. Research has highlighted that families affected by parental mental distress are among the most vulnerable in our community, and that interventions are more successful when the social and family contexts are considered. Although there is some research on adult children, who have experienced childhood parental mental distress, there are no studies which explore how siblings understand this experience.

The research invites siblings to share their story in a face-to-face interview, lasting approximately an hour. Interview locations are flexible depending on your needs, but can include the University of Hertfordshire, a community location, or your home.

It is hoped that this project will provide some understanding on how relationships within the family are shaped in the context of parental mental distress and add to the literature on the importance of considering and working with the family in clinical practice.

This research is being conducted as part of a doctoral training qualification in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.

Participation is on a voluntary basis.


We are looking for:

  • Over 18s
  • Who have a sibling
  • Whose parents experienced mental distress


  • East of England
  • East Midlands
  • London
  • North East & Cumbria
  • North West
  • South East
  • South West
  • Cymru Wales
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire & the Humber


Although there is no payment for the study, the results will be published and it is hoped that this will help to consider the importance of involving the whole family when a parent experiences mental distress.  

The researcher is happy to travel to meet participants. 

Contact information:

For more information, please contact the researcher Wendy O'Neill at

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