Feeling guilty about your child's mental illness

Learn about: Feeling guilty about your child's mental illness from Kenneth Duckworth, MD,...
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Feeling guilty about your child's mental illness

I always support parents when they’re dealing with the complexity, “Did I do something wrong?” That’s so human. And when people in their lives imply that it’s their fault. I think this gets back to kind of the fundamental terror human beings have about the idea that someone they love could have a brain-based vulnerability. It’s an overwhelming thing to contemplate and I think that ascribing a blame or identity, that’s how it happened, reduces people’s anxiety. It’s important for people not to take that on themselves. My field of psychiatry also contribute to that quite directly by blaming the parents, and mothers in particular, throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s – that was a big mistake and it’s part of the reason NAMI got started. So I think the idea that we have something to do with our children’s well being is important but it’s not in the blame area – it’s in the where-do-we-go-from-here area.

Learn about: Feeling guilty about your child's mental illness from Kenneth Duckworth, MD,...


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Kenneth Duckworth, MD

Psychiatrist, Harvard Professor & Medical Director for NAMI

Ken Duckworth, MD, serves as the medical director for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He is triple board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatry and has extensive experience in the public health arena.

Dr. Duckworth is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University Medical School, and has served as a board member of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. Dr. Duckworth has held clinical and leadership positions in community mental health, school psychiatry and now also works as Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Prior to joining NAMI in 2003, Dr. Duckworth served as Acting Commissioner of Mental Health and the Medical Director for Department of Mental Health of Massachusetts, as a psychiatrist on a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team, and Medical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

Dr. Duckworth attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with honors and Temple University School of Medicine where he was named to the medical honor society, AOA. While at Temple, he won awards for his work in psychiatry and neurology. He also has a family member living with mental illness.

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