Around one in five minor Offspring has the parent who lives with mental diseases worldwide [1, 2]. Offspring whose parents experience mental disorders have higher risk of psychological and developmental disorders compared to the Offspring whose parent do not have mental disorders [3, 4]. In clinical child and adolescent samples, previous studies have estimated that up to half of the Offspring who undergo treatment for psychiatric illnesses have parents who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder . This development of the mental disorders from the parents to their offspring is one of the factor that makes the mental diseases remain the global burden . It was previously found that the Offspring of depressed parents are more likely at greater risk to develop psychopathology and other disabilities . Other studies stated that the population attributable risk proportions for parents mental disorders was higher in high and upper middle than lower middle income countries and higher for abnormal behaviours than the other disorders .
Mental Health has been a challenging problem among Rwandan population especially after 1994 genocide against Tutsi . After 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsi au Rwanda; it was noticed that genocide caused the increasing of mental disorders such as depressive disorders, anxiety diseases, psychosomatic disorders, disorders induced to drug use, psychotic disorders and schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) related to a traumatic event and it affects many people [8,9,10]. Mental disorders affect not only parents but also their offspring . The scholars have recently documented that the rate of mental disorders are elevated in Rwanda with a high prevalence of PTSD ranging from 24.8 to 46.4%, depressive disorders ranging from 15.5 to 46.4%, and anxiety disorders at 58.9% . For the neighbour countries to Rwanda, the incidence of mental disorders is highly prevalence. In Uganda the prevalence of various mental disorders is high with 9.3% for depression, 8.5% for anxiety, 4.9% for bipolar disorders, and 1.5% for schizophrenia [13, 14]. In Tanzania, the common mental disorders (CMDs) were low compared to other countries of the same region .
In fact, mental disorders within parents is one of the negative emotional experiences accompanied by several predictable physiological, social, cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes on their offspring living with them [11, 12]. Most recent studies conducted on the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology indicated that the mothers might transmit psychopathologies to their offspring. They found that the Offspring of the mothers with psychopathology had risk to develop psychopathology. The same studies indicated that depressed mothers differ from non-diseased mothers in that former are more negative, less positive, less contingently responsive, and more disengaged in integration with their siblings .
Moreover, mental disorders refer to a mental or behavioral pattern that cause either suffering or a poor ability to function in ordinary life . A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person's thinking, feelings, or behaviors (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning . Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode among the Offspring whose parents have mental psychopathology. The transmission of signs and symptoms from parents to their off-springs vary widely vary and they refer to a wide range of mental health conditions-disorders that affect mood, thinking and behaviors of offspring. The mental psychopathologies includes depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors [20,21,22]. Other researchers confirmed the impact of parental mental diseases on their offspring particularly postnatal depression. And they have recently found that parental mental diseases lead to insecure attachment for offspring and this affects cognitive, emotional, social and behavior development of child. Indeed, the offspring with the parents diagnosed mental diseases may develop psychiatric disorders in childhood, adolescence and later adult life [22, 23].
Preceding studies found that the genetic influences occur to the offspring whose parents have been diagnosed mental diseases. The scientific evidence from macro-perspective agree that parental psychopathology in perinatal may lead to child functioning beyond young age. This psychological impact may take a long time from childhood to adulthood . The scholars revealed that offspring from parents with depressive disorders have a greater risk to develop behavioral problems [26, 27]. The evidence state that 1 in 5 offspring live in families with a parent who has mental diseases . Etiologically, not only genetic factors may increase the risk but also the environmental factors or various combination of genetic predisposition and adverse environmental determinants may increase the risk to develop any of mental disorders among the offspring whose one or both parents have mental disorder. Some of the environmental risk factors are perinatal, maternal, family, parenting, socio-economic and personal risk factors [28, 29].
Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function . Recently, the research has stated that the offspring whose parents have mental diseases have a greater risk to develop psychiatric and behavioural problems that may affect the adulthood of the child if no early intervention provided to both parents and psychological supports to the offspring. Preceding studies conveyed that offspring whose parents had psychiatric disorders have a greater likelihood to experience psychological problems, substance use that exacerbate their mental functioning, anxiety and bipolar disorders when compared to those whose parents had not psychiatric disorders [26,27,28]. Other earlier studies stated that most however these offspring develop different psychiatric pathologies and behavioral problems, psychotherapies combined with medication are provided to them for diagnosing and treating those disorders and then their psychological wellbeing is promoted. In addition to that, earlier studies scrutinized that families whose offspring have those psychiatric disorders are often affected by parental illnesses and the psychiatric disorders of their offspring. They also coincided that these offspring from these families handicapped also become more vulnerable in their respective communities than the Offspring whose families are not negatively affected. Similar studies conveyed that these families that face different vulnerabilities due to psychiatric disorders had a greater odds to experience health problems that include social isolation, financial adversities, and marital cacophony [12, 27]. Previous studies evidently demonstrated that offspring whose parents had mental illnesses have a higher risk to develop psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems that might be confounded with the different factors such as environmental, parent–child adjustment mostly associated with the stages of development of the child, type of mental illnesses of the parent, family awareness of the mental illness, types of therapies provided to the parents, and capacities of adults from the families to provide care and other health supports [12, 35].
Moreover, preceding studies stated that the offspring who parents have psychiatric disorders may develop mental illnesses and behaviors problems that may occur in childhood. These effects might weaken their psychosocial, cognitive, and personality development. They also documented that they might develop health problems such as mental retardation, lower performance in their daily activities and at school, and difficulties in their social relationships [12, 16, 20, 36, 37]. Although the psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems might occur since childhood, they also may occur even in the adolescenthood and adulthood [18, 22]. Earlier studies also presented that not all parents with mental illnesses may develop similar degree of parenting difficulties, but those with chronic disturbance are less likely to be sensitive and competent parenting behaving when compared to those parents without chronicity [24, 39]. It was established that a specific diagnosis is neither an independent nor useful predictor for parenting problems or strengths [12, 24].
Although mental diseases are highly prevalent in Rwanda, the accessibility to mental health interventions remain at low level . To our knowledge and based on the above-mentioned scientific evidence, there is very little knowledge known in the neuropsychiatric hospitals about the association between parental mental health and offspring mental health. Therefore, this study investigated the relationship between parental mental illness and their offspring mental health. The researchers hypothesized that the offspring born to the parents with mental mental disorders have a grater risk to develop mental disorders compared to the offspring whose parents with no mental disorders.