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Parenting help for bipolar mums and dads

05 Sep 2007

Required for study - volunteers with children aged 3-10 and online access

Parents with bipolar disorder (formally known as manic depression) can take part in a study that will give them the chance to follow a highly successful parenting skills programme.

Dr Steven Jones and Dr Rachel Calam at the School of Psychological Sciences will assess the volunteers' current mood and experiences of parenting with an online questionnaire before offering some of them help via an online version of the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme that featured on the ITV1 television series called 'Driving Mum and Dad Mad'.

The Triple P system, developed by Australian clinical psychologist Professor Matt Sanders, is known to be effective in modifying and improving children's behaviour by rebuilding positive relationships, tackling discipline and setting rules and limits.

The first series of 'Driving Mum and Dad Mad' in spring 2005 followed the experiences of five families attending a Triple P group. An average of 4.23 million viewers watched the show, with 500 families taking part in a parallel study by Dr Calam, The Great Parenting Experiment. All the parents who followed the TV series and used the strategies shown reported improved behaviour in their child and greater confidence in managing it. The group receiving additional web-based information and email support experienced an even greater improvement, and six months after the series most of the families reported long term benefits and continued improvements to their children's behaviour.

Dr Jones said: "Parents with bipolar disorder face many challenges in bringing up their children with key facets of the disorder, such as instability of mood and behaviour, impulsivity and anger problems, likely to lead to parenting difficulties. These difficulties can serve as stressors likely to contribute to distress, destabilisation and possible relapse in the parent. At the same time, recent research suggests that children of parents with bipolar disorder are at increased risk of behavioural and emotional disturbance, which are risk factors both for their own development and for parental mental health.

"This study is a great opportunity for these parents and their children. Triple P is a very good, sound programme that has helped many families. Professor Sanders has used this with depressed mothers and had good results."

Dr Jones and Dr Calam are recruiting parents who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, have children aged three to ten and online access.

 For more information or to take part in the study, volunteers can visit: