Personalised Online Parenting Programs Better Support Vulnerable Families

A recent study funded by Australian Rotary Health (ARH) have discovered how new digital parenting programs are able to improve the mental health of families.

Half of all cases of mental health disorders develop before the age of 14, and many of them are preventable. Parents and primary caregivers play an essential role in minimising a child’s risk of developing such common mental health disorders, including but not limited to depression and anxiety disorders. With the correct parenting program, not only could a child’s mental health be supported, but also their parent’s.

Dr Marie Yap from Monash University received a Mental Health Grant between 2018 and 2020 to research how personalised online parenting programs could potentially reduce children’s risk of depression and anxiety. The study explored the outcomes of parents who completed a tailored online parenting program, called the Parenting Resilient Kids program. The outcomes were measured 3 months post-intervention and 12 months post-intervention.

The results of the program were significant, illustrating a high level of parent engagement compared to the control group. Such levels were proven to contribute to positive mental health outcomes for both the children and the parents. Outcomes included higher levels of health-related quality of life in both the parents and the children, as well as lower levels of parental psychological control.

“The greatest highlight [in our research was] seeing the very high rates of engagement parents had with our Parenting Resilient Kids program,” said Dr Yap. “With parents completing an average of 78% of their personally-tailored program.”

Though the study was not able to determine if the program directly influenced a child developing anxiety or depressive symptoms, it demonstrated how a new low-cost method in providing parent-focused interventions can be highly effective in improving the mental health of families.

Work is underway in developing a wide range of tailored modules and delivery modes for future parenting programs, to suit the needs and priorities of every family.

The following studies associated with this project have also been published:

  1. Fernando, L. M. N., Sim, W. H., Jorm, A. F., Rapee, R., Lawrence, K. A. & Yap, M. B. H. (2018). Parenting Resilient Kids (PaRK), an online parenting program to prevent anxiety and depression problems in primary school-aged children: Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. TRIALS, 19 (1).
  2. Sim, W. H., Jorm, A. F., Lawrence, K. A., & Yap, M. B. H. (2019). Development and evaluation of the Parenting to Reduce Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (PaRCADS): assessment of parental concordance with guidelines for the prevention of child anxiety and depression. PeerJ, 7.


Media contact: Alexander Galati –

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