• January-February 2016
  • Vol. 16, No. 10

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Mental Health Practice Recommendations: Grandfamilies' Perspectives

A research article published in GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy explores the relationships between grandparents and the grandchildren they raise and the mental health professionals who serve them, with a focus on what grandfamilies want as consumers. Past research suggests that when grandfamilies' needs are not met, it can result in negative individual and family outcomes. As the percentage of children living in grandparent-headed homes has doubled in the last few decades, it is important that mental health practitioners understand these families' wide-ranging needs. To that end, interviews were conducted with 40 custodial grandmothers and their adolescent grandchildren with the goal of addressing the limitations of knowledge, gaining insight on how to best intervene, and developing recommendations on how to better meet their needs.

The research found that grandmothers and grandchildren did not differentiate between types of mental health providers, services, or professionals, which suggests that efforts should be made to better educate grandfamilies on the differences so they can better select appropriate service providers based on their needs. The analysis of the interviews also identified five main themes in relation to service recommendations: tailoring service provision, offering services for grandchildren, monitoring biases, creating space, and engaging in advocacy. Interview results included the following suggestions:

  • Grandchildren emphasized the need for mental health professionals to facilitate mentoring and to provide opportunities for grandchildren to socialize with other grandchildren in similar circumstances.
  • Grandmothers and grandchildren both recommended promoting problem solving, offering services for grandchildren, and being responsive to their families' unique needs.
  • Participants suggested that practitioners avoid making judgments, educate themselves about grandfamilies, advocate for their families, and attend to the experiences of both grandmothers and grandchildren.

The article, "Practice Recommendations for Mental Health Professionals Perspectives From Grandparents and Their Adolescent Grandchildren," by Kendra A. O'Hora and Megan L. Dolbin-MacNab, GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 2(1), 2015, is available at http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=grandfamilies (PDF - 281 KB).

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