About this Research Topic
The first Frontiers eBook compilation of papers on parents with mental and/or substance use disorders and their children, published in 2020, included 27 papers, with over 100 contributors from 15 countries. Investigators employed diverse designs and methods to explore the experiences of parents and their families, and to develop and test interventions. While the prior Research Topic was a significant contribution to the field, families living with parental mental and/or substance use disorders remain vulnerable. Their outcomes are compromised by unmet needs and the dearth of policies and programs tailored to their characteristics and circumstances. The proposed second Research Topic provides opportunity to highlight the latest advances in research; further developments in measures and methods; innovation in intervention development, adaptation and testing; and shifts in policy and practice paradigms.
Families living with parental mental and/or substance use disorders continue to face considerable biopsychosocial challenges, with complex pathways to mitigating risk, enhancing resilience and supporting recovery. An ecological, life-span approach to improving outcomes for all family members – infants, children, adolescents and adults who are parents – requires careful consideration of sociocultural conditions, life stages and developmental ages alongside family-focused needs, goals and plans. In addition, community contexts, policy developments and practice innovation play roles in contributing to the wellbeing and functioning of all family members. The risk conveyed to all family members by parental mental and/or substance use disorders is great. Fortunately, the opportunities to intervene are plentiful and varied. However, in many cases, interventions are unspecified, untested and not brought to scale in regional, state or national initiatives. We may have the requisite knowledge to inform policy and practice, but this evidence may not be applied to effect innovation or change, suggesting the need for widespread knowledge translation and dissemination efforts, with significant potential to improve public mental health.
Our continued goal is to bring attention to and address gaps in the research literature. Particular aspects of the identification, treatment and prevention of disorders for family members have been well articulated in some countries, as described in the prior Research Topic. The issues of children and adolescents whose parents live with mental and/or substance use disorders have been the focus of international efforts to explore their experiences, bring attention to gaps in services and, to some extent, develop practice guidelines and test interventions. The area of perinatal maternal mental health has received a great deal of attention, though research and treatment strategies have not necessarily been patient-centered (i.e., informed by input from stakeholders, including mothers themselves). More recently, efforts have been made to explore the impact of children and adolescents (i.e., family experiences) on adults who are parents, and the ways in which success or failure as a parent may contribute to or undermine a parent’s treatment and recovery.
In this Research Topic, we again aim to curate the latest knowledge in (a) development and testing of interventions for all family members (i.e., children, adolescents and adults) living with or who are parents experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders; (b) policy issues relevant to these families, along with testable and tested change strategies; and (c) innovative knowledge translation and dissemination approaches to improving outcomes for vulnerable family members of all ages. We hope to include articles on novel, technology-based solutions with strong conceptual underpinnings, appropriate to rigorous scientific testing. We are looking for contributions at all levels of analysis (e.g., policy and practice, community and individual), suggesting that submissions will reflect the creative, rigorous use of multiple and mixed methods. Our intention is to lay the groundwork for future innovation, toward building an evidence base of effective prevention and intervention approaches for family members who are living with or who are parents with mental and/or substance use disorders.
Keywords: Parents, Children, Mental Disorders, Substance Use Disorders, Families
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.