The SPaCE Project

About the SPaCE Project

Many parent carers of children with special educational needs or disability struggle with their mental health. In this study, we want to find out whether parent carers in England are more likely to have mental health problems than other parents, and whether this problem has become worse since the start of the pandemic. We also want to learn what it is about their situations or caring roles that might particularly impact their mental health. We want to see whether parent carers who struggle with their mental health are being identified by the health or social services that they are in contact with, and what kinds of support or treatment they are getting.

We will be looking at information from surveys and health data that already exist to see what we can learn about how many parent carers have mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and addiction. We will also investigate whether things like parent carers’ income, ethnicity, or physical health mean that they are more likely to need support for their mental health. We will look at how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected parent carers’ mental health by comparing data from before and after 2020.

We will also survey parent carers to ask them about whether they have been asked about their mental health and if they have been signposted or referred for any help. We will also ask professionals how they identify and support parent carers who may need help for their mental health. We will ask some parent carers to take part in interviews to find out more about their experiences accessing mental health support and treatment in detail.

We will use this information to learn about whether many parent carers in England might not be getting the support or treatment that they need for their mental health, as well as learning about where there are examples of services providing good support for parent carers. We will produce a map that shows how parent carers are supported in different ways around England.

We plan to use the information from this research to develop ideas about how we can improve the ways that services identify and support parent carers who may need more support for their mental health.

This research (award number: MH026) is funded as part of the Three NIHR Research Schools Mental Health Programme. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.