Worldwide around onev in five minor children has a parent with a mental illness (1). In Norway it is estimated that 450,000 children have parents with a mental illness or substance use disorders (2). These children are at high risk of developing a mental illness themselves (3).
In a meta-analysis, (4) found that children of parents with a severe mental illness had a 50% chance of developing any mental illness, and 32% chance of developing a severe mental illness. In Norway, it has been estimated that children of parents with a mental illness (COPMI) have double the risk of both short-term and long-term negative consequences compared to children of parents without mental illnesses (2). Elevated risk has been documented for COPMI across the diagnostic spectrum of mental disorders in parents, including schizophrenia (5) obsessive-compulsive disorder (6), depression (7, 8), substance abuse disorders (9), anxiety disorders (10), bipolar disorder (11), eating disorders (12), personality disorders (13) and suicide (14). The transmission of risk for psychopathology from parents to children is both diagnosis-specific such that children may develop the same mental illness as their parents, and general, such that children are at risk of developing a wide range of disorders (10).