Emerging Minds

Intergenerational mental health

About the course

This course is designed for professionals who work with children, and those who work with adults who are parents. It supports you to apply three elements of an 'intergenerational lens' to your work, to positively influence the parent–child relationship and children’s mental health. The course describes how an intergenerational lens can be used in practice to better understand the history of family challenges or disadvantages, as well as the history of family strengths, resilience and know-how.

An intergenerational lens can help parents to insightfully examine the historical factors that influence their own parenting, both positively and negatively. It helps children to be centred in your work, and ensure that their voice is considered through consistent, child-focused practice.

The course highlights the importance of empathic, respectful and hopeful engagement practices, supporting parents and children to find ways forward through complex problems.


Module one: Looking back

Looking back through an intergenerational lens invites parents to think about their own experiences of being parented, and how these experiences have shaped their own parenting decisions.

Module two: Exploring the present and the parent–child relationship

In this module you will reflect on your practice, either with child or parent (or both), focusing on the parent–child relationship.

Module three: Looking forward

This module focuses on your work with the parent and child, looking forward with a prevention and early intervention approach.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for all practitioners who work specifically with children, parents and pregnant women where intergenerational mental health, isolation, disadvantage and adversity continue to significantly impact upon them. It recognises the interrelated nature of mental health concerns, disadvantage and adversities, such as financial difficulties, family and domestic violence, homelessness, poverty and child protection issues.

Learning aims

As you work through this course, you will work towards understanding how an intergenerational lens can help you to:

  • ensure you consider children’s social and emotional wellbeing when working with adults who are parents
  • use a prevention and early intervention framework to support children’s mental health
  • understand the history and context of parents' and children's problems
  • understand the history and context of a family’s strengths, resilience and know-how
  • help parents understand the historical factors that influence their parenting, both positively and negatively
  • place the child at the centre of all decisions and interactions
  • consider how experiences of disadvantage and adversity contribute to children’s mental health; and
  • consider how experiences of trauma affect children’s mental health.


It is estimated that this course will take you three hours to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked, and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Exploring children’s experiences of trauma and adversity can be really difficult: seek help if needed.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don't feel like you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset: consider doing something for yourself that you enjoy, or spend some time with friends, family or others that care about you.
  • Be aware of your emotions after the course is completed.

If you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.3

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.4


This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW. Available here.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  3. Everymind. 2020. Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Accessed 07/05/2020. Available here.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW. Available here.

Ready to start learning?

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