surviving parents with mental illness

Surviving Parents With Mental Illness

SPECIAL WARNING: This information is NOT for people (under 18 years of age) or for anybody diagnosed with any specific mental illness. This information is NOT meant to act as a substitute for professional therapy. If uncertain please consult your doctor, G.P. or mental health professional

This website was launched on 7th January, 2008. It came about as a direct result of inadequate information (or research) on the disenfranchised loss and grief associated with adults who were children of parents with a Mental Illness. Based on practice experience, it specifically addresses people who, since infancy, had one or both parents with a mental illness. It aims to help such people survive, thrive, and celebrate on an inter-generational level (irrespective of whether their mentally ill parent is alive or not, diagnosed or not).

This website aims to contribute towards building foundations for change by:

  • Publicly sharing clinical practice experience and information for this group of people

  • Delivering practical messages for individual and local action, where authentic gains potentially can be made via self-awareness of survivors of one or more parents with a mental illness

  • To ultimately raise public awareness of what might be needed for the well-being and healthy development of people who survived parents with a mental illness

My experience in a professional capacity was an important motivator in writing this website. I have a number of clients and patients referred to me by GPs and after listening to their stories I became passionate and decided to research this topic. If you scroll down all the way to the bottom of this page you will be able to click on specific areas of interest.

Growing up as a adult COPMI is not necessarily a ‘life sentence’. It can result in unique strengths and qualities.

Special note on chosen title: Surviving Parents with Mental Illness. The aim of this title is to acknowledge and validate those certain internal resources and tasks necessary for all adult children of parents with mental illness beyond what might be developmentally understood as “ordinary”. It therefore does not discount the fact that some ACOPMI who survived and thrived might have done so without compromising a positive and loving relationship with their mentally ill parent(s).

Following my research (see: and for ease of communication, I developed the acronym CaN-ACOPSMI as reflected in this resource website on the Trauma Page.

CaN-ACOPSMI stands for Competent and Non-disordered - Adult Children Of Parents with aSevere Mental Illness. (A complete Glossary of terms can be found in the research - see above link).

Non-disordered ACOPSMI – refers to ACOPSMI that do not have a Severe Mental Illness and are mentally well-enough to be understood by society as psychologically/mentally “competent” (Rengstorff, 1992). That is, such individuals may, in some cases, suffer from common mild mental health conditions brought on by a distressing upbringing, such as depression or anxiety, but not to the extent that it impinges on their capacity to be high functioning members of society. In this sense, they are understood as “non-disordered”.

The abbreviation ‘COPMI' (Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness) is used for ease of expression, but it should not be confused with Australia's former national organisation, COPMI.

This resource website specifically addresses the adults of this population who suffered during childhood because their needs were not met. While Australia's COPMI initiative attempts to acknowledge the children of such households, there is no current policy to date that specifically addresses these children when they become adults - particularly if they are socially well-camouflaged'. They are an often invisible/silent yet significant demographic who require attention (see my research for further information).

A message for CaN-ACOPSMI: For the sake of personal fulfillment and a better world, I wish you strength and very best of wishes on this most important journey we all call, “life”.

A message for non CaN-ACOPSMI: If you are ever privileged to be sufficiently trusted by someone who is a child of parents with mental illness to reveal to you who they truly are and how they managed to continue to survive and thrive, then I hope this website helps you appreciate them further, support them in life, and create a better world so their suffering is reduced and ultimately replaced with celebration.

Here are short articles I was invited to write in an E-publication designed to keep mental health practitioners up to date with psychiatric and psychological research and opinion from around the world. I've put these short articles on the following link for the general public:


The information appearing on this site is for general information only and should not in any way be taken to constitute professional advice or recommendation that a particular course of action be taken in relation to any actual issue, problem, matter, disease, illness, ailment or injury to any adult or child.

Information accessed through this website is not complete or exhaustive and does not cover all available resources, issues, advice and assistance and treatments. The materials presented are not intended as medical or psychological advice and should not be used or relied upon as a substitute for a consultation or visit with your, or another person’s doctor, or other health care provider.

Links to other sites from the pages on this website are for information only and Suzette Misrachi accepts no responsibility for any material on any other web site which is linked from or to this website. All information can be withdrawn or changed without notice. Whilst every care has been taken in producing the information on this site, Suzette Misrachi does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information.

Suzette Misrachi cannot and does not assume any responsibility or liability for any use or misuse of information transmitted or received using this website or any of its links. In no event shall Suzette Misrachi be liable for any damages suffered, incurred by or caused by you, and all other damages suffered, incurred by or caused by you, direct or indirect, special, incidental, consequential, exemplary or punitive are hereby excluded.

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© 2008 Suzette Misrachi All rights reserved. This website is copyright. Community organisations and individuals may copy parts of this website for non-profit purposes as long as the original meaning is maintained, full acknowledgment of the author of this publication is made, and consent from the author, Suzette Misrachi, is sought via email.

This website is a 'work in progress'. Please stay tuned as it will be updated as more awareness and information arises.

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Last Modified: 11th Feb, 2017.

All content copyright 2021 Suzette Misrachi unless otherwise noted. No unauthorized duplication of materials, in part or whole, without written consent.