Children of mentally ill parents have a multi-elevated own risk of disease. According to our studies, about 50% of children and adolescents of mentally ill parents (CHIMPS) are mentally conspicuous themselves or ‘borderline’ abnormality. Usually, those children and adolescents (CA) are clinically ignored and are a “forgotten risk group”. The challenge facing the urgently required care is that the psychosocial situation of the families is often problematic as well as the medical initial situation, which is very complex and heterogeneous in most cases. On the level of the parents, there are mentally ill parental units, healthy partners, but also mentally ill, not yet diagnosed parental units with missing disease insight. The situation is similarly difficult on the level of the children: there are healthy, resilient children, which are indeed burdened, but not mentally conspicuous. Those often are highly adapted and „function“ to a high rate. Furthermore, there are children who are at borderline of abnormality, and a great part (about 50%) of CA who are mentally conspicuous and already show clear signs of mental illness themselves. The challenge in helping these families is to meet the requirements of the heterogeneous initial situations and to provide individual, targeted and adequate help for every child, adolescent and their parents.
The group CHIMPS-NET aims at seeing those CA earliest possible (when their parents are still cured in the adult psychiatry), screen them for mental abnormalities and provide an offer to psychological treatment which is adapted to the individual medical initial situation, the indication and the requirement in a stepped care model. For those children who are not mentally conspicuous and their families there is the prevention (CHIMPS-P) with a social worker, for CA who borderline ‘abnormality’ there is a longer and more intensive prevention using a multi-family-therapy group setting (CHIMPS-MFT). For those children who show mental abnormalities there is a specific family orientied therapy (CHIMPS-T) with an approbated psychotherapist respectively a child- and adolescent psychotherapist. Similar to a side effect of that systematic family-oriented approach, all the parents are considered to be clinically conspicuous in the first place. Therefore, all diseased but neither yet diagnosed nor treated parents will be diagnosed, supported and – if required – put in contact with other therapists for further interventions. This way, CHIMPS-NET will be implemented in cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary care structures as a preventive and if necessary, also psychotherapeutic treatment for CHIMPS which is based on the demands of the families and can be easily integrated in the everyday family life. The treatments include diagnosis, prevention and therapy to treat mental symptoms earliest possible and to avoid their chronification. The transgenerational transfer of mental disorders will be prevented in this way. The main aims of CHIMPS-NET are the implementation, evaluation and transfer of four evidence-based treatments (care models), (CHIMPS-P, CHIMPS-MFT, CHIMPS-T and iCHIMPS) for CHIMPS and their families in every federal state in Germany. At the very heart of the project there is an apposite treatment (prevention or therapy) which is adjusted individually to every child and family. In the trial period this will be continually evaluated and compared to standard care. If successful, the implementation in standard care throughout Germany will be continued.