For many reasons, parents of children referred for mental health services may also need help with their own behavioral, emotional, social, or thought problems. To help mental health providers document parental problems, parents can be asked to complete broad spectrum self- and collateral-assessments such as the Adult Self-Report (ASR) and Adult Behavior Checklist (ABCL).

To test associations between children’s psychiatric diagnoses and specific kinds of parental problems, Wesseldijk et al. (2018) performed regressions of parents’ ASR DSM-oriented scale scores on psychiatric diagnoses of their children, who were referred to Dutch psychiatric services. In addition to the children’s diagnoses, the independent variables included the child’s age, parents’ age, parents’ education, parents’ employment status, and parents’ marital status.

After controlling for other parent and child variables, Wesseldijk et al. found that child diagnoses of depression were strongly associated with parents’ scores on the ASR Depressive Problems Scale and child diagnoses of ADHD were strongly associated with parents’ scores on the ASR Attention Problems scale. Child diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder were significantly but less strongly associated with parents’ scores on the ASR Avoidant Personality scale. Although many parents had elevated problem levels, particular kinds of parental problems were thus specifically associated with particular diagnoses of their children. The authors concluded that their findings argue “for bridging the gap between child psychiatry and adult psychiatry and establishing clinics that are able to provide integrated care for the whole family” (p. 1582).

Reference: Wesseldiji, L.W., Dieleman, G.C., van Steensel, F.J.A., Baretls, M., Hudziak, J.J., Lindauer, R.J.L., Bogels, S.M., & Middeldorp, C.M. (2018). Risk factors for parental psychopathology: A study in families with children or adolescents with psychopathology. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 1575-1584.