Children of mothers with mental ilness: Attachment, emotional and behavioural problems

Judi Cunningham, Gillian Harris, Panos Vostanis, Femi Oyebode, Jacqueline Blissett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    This study describes the pattern of emotional and behavioural difficulties of children whose mothers have mental illness, and explores the relationship between children's behavioural and emotional difficulties and maternal perceptions of attachment. Thirteen mothers previously admitted to psychiatric hospital for mental illness completed a measure of their own symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory), their children's emotional and behavioural problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)), and attachment security (Parent/Child Reunion Inventory) (n=21). Mean scores for child SDQ profiles were found to be within the 'normal' range, although (on some indices) mothers reported more 'case' scores for their children, than would be expected from standardized norms. It was found that there were significant positive correlations between 'insecurity' scores and all problem scales of the SDQ. Best predictors from the Parent/Child Reunion Inventory factors for each SDQ scale are reported and discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)639-650
    Number of pages12
    JournalEarly Child Development and Care
    Issue number7-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Attachment
    • Behavioural problems
    • Children
    • Emotional problems
    • Mental health

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Pediatrics


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