Project Reduce Harm for children (REHAC)

The number of children growing up in a stressful upbringing situation in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) has increased in recent decades. These children are 3 to 13 times more likely to develop psychological problems. The urgency to break this intergenerational transmission is becoming increasingly evident in national and municipal policies.  In the EMR there are already several interventions for these children. The central question in this project was ‘what can we learn from each other within the EMR?’.

Project Frame

  • Target group: Children in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR)
  • Duration: 17. September 2018 – 30 June 2019

Focus of the project

There have already been several interventions in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine for children who grow up in stressful situations.

  • Within the project, the partners informed each other extensively about the interventions used and together created an overview of these successful euregional interventions for professionals in the EMR.
  • Three of these interventions were translated and deployed across the border at the end of the project.
  • A bilingual manual was also developed for professionals working in families where children grow up in a stressful situation.

Existing interventions

Partners within the EMR knew that there were successful initiatives in the other regions, but did not know them well enough to be able to use them in their own region. In order to clarify which existing, euregional interventions exist, these have been put together in an overview for professionals in the EMR.

In addition, three successful interventions have been translated:

  • In Dutch South Limburg there is a regular supply of KOPP/KVO (Children of parents with psychiatric problems / Children of Addicted Parents). This mainly concerns activity and discussion groups aimed at children only. This KOPP/KVO offer is also implemented nationally. Within the REHAC project it was decided to translate the intervention Piep into German.
  • In Germany, a successful, scientifically based training course for parents with only upbringing, called Wir2, has been running for many years. A summary of this intervention has been translated into Dutch and about 20 professionals followed a training to be able to offer this intervention also in their own region.
  • In Belgian Limburg the network Ligant coordinates supply for KOPP (children of parents with a psychiatric problem) and KOAP (children of parents with a dependency problem). The new intervention ‘On a trip with a tickle’ has been translated into German and adapted to the Dutch situation. About 20 professionals followed a training to be able to offer this intervention in their own region as well.

How many children are involved?

On an annual basis, the Netherlands has 405,000 people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and/or addiction and who also have children under the age of 18. In total, 577,000 children and adolescents under the age of 18, including 423,000 under the age of 12, grow up with a parent with a mental illness and/or addiction (De Graaf, Ten Have, & Dorsselaer, 2010). Similar figures can be found in Germany and Belgium. Children who grow up in this stressful situation are 3 to 13 times more likely to experience psychological problems or addiction than children who grow up with a mentally healthy parent.

The number of marriages ending in divorce in the euregio has also risen explosively in recent decades. In Germany, more than a third of all marriages end in divorces. The consequence of a divorce is often that children grow up in single-parent families and/or experience a stressful upbringing situation. This also results in a considerably higher chance of developing psychological problems.



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