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National Homeless Advice Service

Cape project: supporting parents with mental health problems

For the Cape Project, the social services department, the mental health trust and a charity in Greenwich London worked together to ensure that mental health staff understood and responded to the needs of parents using adult mental health services. As a result, staff and clients reported positive outcomes and better working arrangements between adults and children’s services.


The partner agencies involved in developing and implementing the project aimed to improve the provision of support to Greenwich families experiencing severe and/or enduring parental mental health problems.

Intended outcomes

The outcomes of the project was intended to be the development of more positive family relationships, and better social inclusion, achieved by raising awareness among professionals of the impact of parental mental illness and working to improve joint working between agencies.

Project actions

The project focused on the family as a whole. Work with client families included:

  • arranging hospital visits for children
  • supporting families to maintain school attendance
  • accessing activities for children
  • understanding the impact of mental illness on children
  • development of parenting skills
  • respite care planning with families for crisis.


The National Children’s Bureau’s evaluation of the CAPE project concluded that it had successfully developed a range of services to support practitioners from Adult Mental Health and Children’s services, all of which have been well received.

For example, the CAPE Project had:

  • helped agencies comply with their statutory requirement to know whether patients are parents, and whether they are in contact with their children
  • ensured a holistic service to families and facilitated communication and liaison between agencies
  • enhanced the links between Adult Mental Health and Children’s services were enhanced
  • produced and promoted new protocols and procedures, leading to led to a better awareness of families’ needs.

More information and resources on how to develop inter-agency protocols to support families in which parents have additional needs related to physical and/or sensory impairments, learning disabilities, mental health, drug and alcohol-related problems or serious illnesses can be found on the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) website.

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