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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Children of parents with a mental illness or addiction

Supportive child hugs their parentGrowing up with a parent who has a mental illness or addiction can be confusing. Sometimes it can be embarrassing. It can feel like no one understands what your life is like and there is no one you can talk to about it. But there are people and organisations that can help you.

If you, or a tamaiti (child) you know, needs help to cope with a whānau (family) affected by mental illness or addiction, you can contact these organisations or ask your GP to refer you.

Mental illness

Caroline Reid Family Support Service (Stepping Stone Trust)

For tamariki (children) this offers one-to-one support, peer support, activities, camps, as well as support for parents. It has a special group called Children Understanding Mental Illness. This helps kids make sense of living with a parent who is mentally unwell, while enjoying fun activities with tamariki of a similar age. This leaflet gives more details. Ask your GP to refer you to this service.

Phone: (03) 338‑6390


Website: (scroll to the bottom of the page)

Stand Children Services (Tū Māia Whānau)

Stand is a service for tamariki that offers home- and school-based social services, therapy, education, and even the chance to have a few adventures. Ask your GP, teacher, or social worker to refer you to this service. It also offers KidzaCool Adventures holiday programmes for tamariki in foster care, or being cared for by someone other than their parents.

Phone: (03) 332‑2541



Yellow Brick Road

Yellow Brick Road provides free support for whānau families and those close to people with a mental illness. It also has a Children Understanding Mental Illness group, which helps tamariki make sense of living with a parent who is mentally unwell. This leaflet has information to help tamariki understand mental illness.

Phone: (03) 366‑9284 or 0800‑876‑682


Familial Trust

Familial Trust is specially for tamariki children who have a parent with an addiction. It offers one-on-one support, counsellors, group activities, and education programmes. See their website for details of their programmes.

Phone: (03) 981‑1093



Having a break (respite care)


Cholmondeley gives tamariki aged 5 to 12 years the opportunity to have a breather from their whānau when things get really hard. It provides a safe, fun place to stay while everyone has a break.

Phone: (03) 329‑9832



Kaupapa Māori

Purapura Whetu Trust

Purapura Whetu Trust takes a uniquely Māori perspective in working with people affected by mental illness. Some of its services are just for tamariki.

Phone: (03) 379‑8001




0800 What's Up, phone 0800‑942‑8787, website

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2021.

Page reference: 162716

Review key: HICOP-162716