Maternal mental health: an ethical base for good practice

Michael Göpfert, Nora McClelland and James Wilson

in Oxford Textbook of Women and Mental Health

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199214365
Published online July 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199640454 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Maternal mental health: an ethical base for good practice

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In this chapter we argue that the four principles of medical ethics, beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for autonomy, and justice (Gillon 1985; Beauchamp and Childress 2001), a new Family Interest Principle (introduced later in the chapter), and a consideration of ‘capacity’ provide a reasoned practice guide for work with mothers experiencing health problems, focusing here on mental health when a parent is a patient. Our concern is the relationship of the clinician with a parent and through the parent their child. Ethics of service provision or services planning (e.g. Culyer 2001; McLachlan 2005), or the provision of other services (e.g. education, child protection) although intensely relevant to this area are not addressed in this chapter nor will we deal with the complex aspects of medical ethics relating to the treatment of children (Baines 2008). We use the term ‘parent’ to refer to any adult person who fulfils a substantive parental role with a child. Defining what counts as a family will in certain circumstances be contentious. There are diverse patterns of family arrangements that may be influenced by cultural, political, economic, and temporal factors. For the purposes of our discussion, we define a family in terms of its role in child-rearing, as a group of at least one adult and at least one child, living together in long-term relationships on an ongoing basis, with vested interest in the well-being of each of the family members.

Chapter.  10153 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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