Family SMILES Supporting children living with parents with mental health issues

Children can feel isolated and frustrated when mental health difficulties affect the way their mum or dad behaves. Sometimes children feel protective of their parent and so don’t seek help and support for themselves.


Children and Young People Now Awards 2014 FinalistFamily SMILES aims to help children aged 8 to 14 build:

  • self-esteem
  • resilience
  • life skills.

We want to give them the confidence to talk about their experiences with other young people who face similar situations.

We also work with parents to help them understand the impact of their illness on their child and to improve their parenting skills to provide a safe, secure and supportive family environment.

blonde girl in glasses smiling and laughing

How it works

Groups of up to 8 children of a similar age meet together weekly. Over 8 sessions they take part in:

  • creative activities
  • discussion
  • play.

This helps them gain a better understanding of their parents' mental health problems. We also help them develop practical life skills, like what to do in an emergency.

Parents attend 6 one-to-one sessions which help them:

  • develop parenting skills
  • enjoy better relationships with their children
  • make a safety plan for their children so that they are cared for safely in the event of the parent suffering a relapse.

We also help make sure families are receiving the support they need from other services, such as adult mental health services, housing, child or adult social services.

Keeping children safe

Find out how you can keep children safe from abuse and other dangers, both online and in the physical world.
Learn how to keep them safe

Evaluating the impact

Find out how we're evaluating Family SMILES.

Learn more

Where Family Smiles is available

Belfast

02820 441650

Bristol

0117 954 3650

Catterick

01748 835704

Gillingham

01634 564688

Grimsby

01472 803 500

Ipswich

01473 234850

Jersey

01534 760800

Manchester

0161 200 1850

Middlesbrough

01642 856400

Tidworth

01980 846 164

Caring Dads: Safer Children

Helping fathers see the impact their violent behaviour has on their children and how they can make positive changes for the future.
Caring Dads: Safer Children service

Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together

Helping mums and children strengthen their relationship after domestic abuse.
DART - Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together service

Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

Protecting children living with adult drug and alcohol misuse.
FEDUP - Family Environment: Drug Using Parents service

Donate now

Our services are helping turn lives around. Your gift can help rebuild lives, and prevent abuse from ruining any more.

Make a donation

Domestic abuse

Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships. 
Read more about domestic abuse

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
Read more about physical abuse

Neglect

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It's dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.
Read more about neglect

Child abuse and neglect

Find out what child abuse is, how to spot the signs, who is affected and what you should do if you're worried about a child
Learn more

Support our services

With your support, we help keep one million children safe from abuse and neglect – so they can look forward to a life of hope, and endless possibilities.

Donate now

It's time to demand change

The government doesn't know how many children have been abused and need support. Help us change this.

Sign our petition