Mothers of children diagnosed with epilepsy ‘at risk’ of significant mental health issues, says new study

New research published shows extent of stress, anxiety and depression amongst parents – particularly mothers – of children with epilepsy.

Young Epilepsy, published the SEEN study (which stands for Sussex Early Epilepsy and Neurobehaviour) which highlights the impact of a child’s diagnosis on parents. The study finds:

The research was completed in partnership with UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust and the Child Development Centre at Crawley Hospital, West Sussex. All the parents who participated resided in the Sussex area.

Former UK Prime Minister and Young Epilepsy Vice-President David Cameron has backed the research during his recent visit to the charity.
Mr Cameron said:

Samantha and I know first-hand from our much-loved son, Ivan, the emotional journey that parents go through when a child is diagnosed with epilepsy. Thanks to the hard work and research of Young Epilepsy we are learning more and more about this complex condition – and families are receiving that much needed reassurance that their loved ones are getting the appropriate care and support they deserve.

Dr. Colin Reilly, who co-led on this research, says

We recommend that parents of children with epilepsy are routinely screened for depression, anxiety and stress and that the children undergo comprehensive psychological assessment. In this way the wellbeing of both parents and the child are considered together which is very important given the interaction between both. Our study showed that the main predictor of parental health difficulties was child behaviour problems which are often not recognised highlighting the need for support for these difficulties which in turn will help parents.