The impact of Parents Plus ADHD Children’s Programme in NHS CAMHS service

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Blanaid Gavin explains that “The Parents Plus ADHD Programme is a fundamental tool to effective ADHD care. Professionals develop a greater understanding of ADHD, the real-life challenges of parents and how to most effectively use helpful solution focused therapeutic strategies to enable positive behaviours.

Professionals also gain confidence from the use of a structured programme using evidenced based strategies. Through experiencing the encouraging outcomes of the programme, this enhances therapeutic optimism, and in itself is key to professionals’ ability to facilitate constructive change.”
The critical need for and value of early access to evidence-based and tailored parenting interventions for families raising a child with ADHD through their local NHS CAMHS services cannot be underestimated. It is a key component of ensuring mental health and wellbeing of children with ADHD, their parents and siblings. The Parents Plus ADHD Children’s Programme addresses the needs of parents of children with ADHD aged 6-12 years, and can help prevent serious secondary problems, such as self-harm and substance misuse, from affecting children with ADHD as they grow older. The programme utilises a solution-focused approach with facilitators introducing and exploring topics and parents’ problem-solving solutions as a group.

Furthermore, due to its group nature, the programme is cost-effective as it supports large numbers of service users with limited staff/time. It can also be delivered on a one-to-one basis, and improves mental health teams’ overall service delivery to families raising a child with ADHD.

Speaking of its effectiveness, NHS CAMHS Gloucestershire, Lisa Whitlock shares the impact of delivering the programme, “We had one hundred percent improvement on parent goal-based outcomes, and one hundred percent of parents reported the programme had a positive effect on their family.”

NHS CAMHS Registered Physician Associate, Rebecca Taylor explains, “Running the Parents Plus Children’s ADHD Programme in Tower Hamlets makes you remember why you do what you do. It is rewarding and a privilege to see parents feel supported on their journey with this programme.”

The proof is in the evidence:
The Parents Plus Children’s Programme is robustly evidence-based and two randomised controlled trials conducted in clinical settings attest to its effectiveness for families with children with ADHD.

Study 1 – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Ireland, RCT study
Compared to the control group parents completing the programme showed significant reductions in:

  •  Reductions in children’s total difficulties and conduct concerns
  •  Decreased parental stress and increased parental confidence
  •  Improvements in parent goals
  •  Gains maintained at five-month follow-up.

Study 2 – ADHD Mental Health Service, Turkey RCT study
The children in the study were aged 6–11 years, and they had been diagnosed with ADHD and had residual symptoms despite the effective dosage and timing of their medication.
Compared to the control those in the programme group improved significantly more overtime on –

  • Conners’ Parent Rating Scale-Revised
  • Family Assessment Device
  • Parent Stress Index

This trial is the first clinical study involving the parents of children with ADHD that addresses residual
symptoms and functional impairments that remain despite the administration of the maximum
effective dose of pharmacological treatment.

By training as a facilitator of this programme, you will learn how to support parents to:

  • Understand the challenges and strengths of ADHD
  • Manage behaviour and emotional problems
  • Build their children’s self-esteem and confidence and reduce their stress
  • Understand the role of medication and other treatments
  • Manage homework and education challenges
  • Help their child talk about and understand ADHD
  • Support children’s friendships

The professional programme training focuses on:

  • Developing an in-depth understanding of the needs of families raising a child with ADHD
  • Delivering the programme via face-to-face and online sessions, to groups and individual families
  • Providing opportunities to observe and practise the skills to become a solution-focused facilitator
  • Building on parents’ strengths as a basis for ongoing change
  • Strengthening inter-agency and community partnerships

NHS CAMHS Nurse Therapist, Nonsi Mabhena adds, “Through training in and delivering the Parents Plus ADHD Children’s Programme in our service, parents experiences are validated, they are supported to know that they are not terrible parents. Parents learn that there are many positives to having ADHD and raising a child with ADHD, and to understand that often it is the world around us that is not designed to support these children.”

The Parents Plus Supports Package:
Research shows that families achieve the best outcomes when facilitators and their managers are supported pre and post-training to deliver programmes. Parents Plus charity provide a comprehensive package of pre and post-training supports to our facilitators and managers to ensure a sustainable and effective delivery of the programmes within their agency.

Our supports include the following:

  • Implementation support to get groups off the ground, including planning workshops and coaching for managers.
  • Access to two individual supervision sessions free of charge in the first year post-training.
  • Advanced training workshops on specific topics.
  • Extra resources to facilitate delivery, e.g. fliers, posters, certificates, practice articles, parenting articles, and supplementary handouts.
  • Support to promote your Parents Plus courses in your community.
  • Advice and guidance on evaluating and monitoring outcomes in your agency to ensure your groups are effective.
  • Sponsorship for further supervision is available on the application.

The Parents Plus Programmes are robustly evidence-based and currently over 27 studies conducted in clinical, disability and community settings attest to their effectiveness for families with children and adolescents of all ages, dealing with a variety of challenges and issues. For example, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Alan Carr, University College Dublin, presented a meta-analysis of the Parents Plus evidence base. This analysis, conducted with over 1,000 families, highlights the significant
benefit for families who attend the Parents Plus courses, both post-treatment and at follow-up. The study was published in the International Journal Family Process.

For more information on the Parents Plus ADHD Programme and how it can benefit your teams and the families you support, please contact our Impact Lead, Vicki Byrne at
Our charity also provide onsite training, team supervision, and tailored packages of support to ensure the successful rollout and evaluation of our evidence-based programmes.