Researchers from the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University recruited 97 parents with bipolar disorder who have children aged between three and ten years old.
Investigators split the participants into two groups, with one being offered an Integrated Bipolar Parenting Intervention (IBPI) online.
The online tool includes sixteen modules lasting half an hour each looking at different aspects of parenting, supported by video and audio material.
Researchers said the site supports parents in two ways:
- to learn more both their bipolar disorder and how best to self-manage it building on their own personal strengths;
- to enhance their current parenting skills to encourage desirable behavior in their children.
Researchers discovered child behavior, parenting sense of competence, and parenting stress improved significantly in the group using online support for the 48-week study.
The study appears in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Lead author Professor Steven Jones said, “People with bipolar disorder may find that their changes in mood make the delivery of consistent parenting more difficult than for parents without bipolar disorder.
“This online parenting support program combines self-management strategies for bipolar disorder. It looks at the impact of extremes of mood on parenting and how to maintain consistency in parenting.”
Investigators also noted that as the intervention requires very little professional support, it could be offered as a supplement to current services without significant additional investment.
Nevertheless, the scientists note that further research is necessary to determine if the short-term benefits will reduce longer-term mental health problems.
Source: University of Lancaster