To screen or not to screen? Exploring the value of parent mental health screening in children’s rehabilitation services
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Purpose: Parents of children with disabilities are at increased risk of mental health challenges, yet it is unclear whether parent mental health screening should be considered in the context of children's rehabilitation. Methods: A nonsystematic narrative review was conducted guided by a framework for assessing the effectiveness of proposed health screening programs. Screening for the purpose of recommending further assessments and/or psychosocial supports and services was considered. The potential harms and benefits of mental health screening for parents of children with disability were examined considering relevant contextual factors. Results and conclusions: While best evidence in the form of a randomized controlled trial in this population does not yet exist, there was evidence to suggest that parent mental health is an important factor in promoting child and family health and well-being and deserves consideration in the practice of family-centered care. If appropriate referral pathways and resources are developed, children's rehabilitation service providers may be in an advantageous position to provide parent mental health screening. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Parents of children with disabilities are at increased risk for depression, stress, and anxiety. Service providers may be well placed to identify mental health concerns through screening. Contextual factors to consider before initiating screening include level of evidence for screening, whether screening would reach target clients, and whether additional supports are available. Children's rehabilitation service providers can be family-centered by attending to parent mental health needs, with the potential to improve the health, development, and well-being of the whole family.
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