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07-04-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2017

Delivering Diagnoses: Parents as Translators and Withholders of Children’s Mental Health Diagnoses

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2017
Auteur:
Elizabeth H. Bringewatt

Abstract

There is a lack of research on how mental health diagnoses are delivered and explained to children and the effectiveness of these strategies. This qualitative study examines how emerging adults recall the delivery of mental health diagnoses in childhood and how they suggest these diagnoses should be delivered to children. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 emerging adults (aged 18–22) who were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and/or bipolar disorder in childhood. Findings reveal that parents, rather than mental health professionals, often inform children of their diagnoses. The data suggest that parents often act as translators of diagnostic information, acting as liaisons between mental health professionals and their children. The paper explores ways in which parents and mental health professionals withhold diagnoses from children, and how this affects children’s experiences. Drawing on their own experiences, participants offer suggestions regarding the best ways to deliver diagnoses to children. Findings suggest that adults should share mental health diagnoses openly with children. Implications for social workers and other allied health professionals who support families when children are diagnosed are discussed.

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