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Benefits of the Program

Feedback from youth who have taken the program has revealed several aspects of the program that are helpful.

  • Participants routinely comment on how learning about mental illnesses has helped allay their fears in that "somehow it didn't seem as bad"

  • Learning how to deal with stigma and helping children resist messages of self-blame and responsibility are other important topics

  • ​Facilitators are continually amazed at the level of sharing and the intensity of participation by the kids

Why a program for children?

Challenges that families face when one member has a mental illness can be huge and at times overwhelming.  Imagine what it must be like to be dependent upon a parent who is actively psychotic, paranoid, or so deeply depressed they can't get out of bed.  What must it be like to live with a parent with uncontrolled manic swings, who is grandiose and full of energy one minute and in the next minutes, in an uncontrollable rage?

Children who have a parent with a mental illness face a number of burdens, discomforts, responsibilities and fears.  Their lives can be shattered by unpredictable episodes of bizarre and disruptive behaviors and be prolonged periods of separation as a result of hospitalization or apprehension by child protection workers.

​Kids may be at risk emotionally as a result of their parent's negative mood, their lack of availability and possible family conflict.  The consequences are extensive and can result in neglect, abuse, academic difficulties, poor peer interactions, confusion and inadequate coping skills.


What is Kids in Control?

Kids in Control offers education and support to children between the ages of 8 to 13 years who have a parent with a mental illness.  Once a week for eight consecutive weeks the kids meet for 1.5 hours.  During the sessions they are given information about mental illness as well as an opportunity to develop and practice healthy coping strategies for dealing with difficulties they may be facing.Using crafts, games and interactive learning activities, children have an opportunity to join together in developing healthy attitudes and coping skills.​​

Outline of Program

  • ​​Session 1: Group building and story telling

  • Session 2: Group building and learning to identify feelings

  • Session 3: Learning about healthy boundaries and how to communicate feelings

  • Session 4: Learning about mental illness

  • Session 5: Learning about the treatment of mental illness

  • ​Session 6: Developing resiliency 

  • Session 7: Societal attitudes and stigma

  • Session 8: Self-care and self-esteem​

After completing the program, kids are invited to attend reunion meetings for ongoing support.