“Parents are the missing piece of the puzzle.” Dr Jenny Brown
A consultant hired by Hunter New England Health to work with the clinicians in their Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) across the New England region says parents are ‘the missing piece of the puzzle’ when it comes to the well-being of young people.
Dr Jenny Brown, an experienced mental health social worker and family therpist whose work and research interest has focused on child and adolescent mental health, wants to empower parents to take the lead in their child’s wellbeing.
While she acknowledges there is a need for professional support for struggling young people, Dr Brown believes parents have a crucial role to play.
“The balance has been lost,” she said.
“Parents do not know how to be helpful to their child’s recovery and just drop them off for the service, hoping they can be fixed externally.”
Dr Brown will speak at PLC Armidale’s 2023 Community Forum on campus on Monday, 11 September and the event will be livestreamed to allow access to those from across the region.
Principal, Mrs Nicola Taylor, said the college had identified the opportunity of bringing together keynote speakers, researchers and leaders in their respective areas to look at some of the emerging and current issues challenging girls and parents of daughters.
“We are focusing on factors that impact the growth and development of young women in an increasingly technological, disconnected, digital and highly sexualised world,” Mrs Taylor said.
During the evening, Dr Brown will draw from her recently published research that shows what a difference is made when parents discover ways to adjust themselves to help their child’s recovery of wellbeing.
“They develop agency, and out of that comes hope,” she said. “And children do better when parents discover the difference they can make, rather than being strongly invested in finding an external professional fix.”
With 35 years of experience in family health and social work, Dr Brown’s passion has been thinking about family life and children’s development in the context of their environment.
She says the dramatic rise in anxiety and depression in children began before COVID and attributes much of this to time-poor and stressed parents, the rise of technology, the necessity for both parents to work and the pressure that puts them under.
“Parents are feeling out of their depth more and want to outsource more because of that loss of confidence,” Dr Brown said.” They’re doubting themselves “
After completing initial training as a social worker at the University of Sydney, Dr Brown undertook post-graduate family therapy training with Relationships Australia, then headed to Columbia University, New York, where she received the Dean’s Award for Academic & Field Work Excellence.
Drawing upon this research evidence and field experience in New York and London, Dr Brown brought this expertise back to Australia, establishing the Family Systems Institute, from which a dedicated Family Systems Practice also commenced. She has also completed her PhD in social science at UNSW where she focussed on parents experience of their child’s mental health treatment.
At the PLC Armidale event ‘Adolescence: independence on steroids’ on Monday, 11 September, Mrs Taylor says Dr Brown will present some big ideas about a different pathway to effective parenting.
“Based on her research and Dr Murray Bowen’s family systems theory, she uses real examples to illustrate how parents recover their clarity and confidence and, in turn, help their children to grow into responsibly resilient young people,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Dr Brown will empower you to be crucial to your daughter’s well-being and know how to promote appropriate levels of responsible independence.
“This significant community event is relevant to parents, educators and those working with pre-teen girls through to young women across the New England, North West Region.”
Along with her numerous research and academic publications, Dr Brown is the author of two books, ‘Growing Yourself Up…How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships’ and ‘Confident Parenting’. Most recently, Dr Brown has established the Parent Hope Project and a podcast series of the same name.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is a speciality service of the Hunter New England Local Health District Mental Health Services. It provides assessment and treatment for young people up to 17 years old, or who are attending school, and are experiencing complex and/or severe mental health problems.
“I have been invited to help their clinicians know how to support parents and families more effectively as everyone knows, adolescent and child mental health services are under pressure,” Dr Brown said.
“The demand is high, and it’s very stressful. So, I am glad to have the opportunity to help clinicians in the area get some training and know how best to partner with parents and not keep parents sidelined.”
To book go to https://events.humanitix.com/2023-community-forum