Demands for more participatory, collaborative family support services have grown, however implementing such methods in practice has proved difficult. The use of a restorative approach (RA) within family services shows promise but little research has explored the provision of such services for families affected by parental mental ill-health. To address this gap, this article reports findings from a three-year feasibility study of an innovative restorative family support service developed to support military veterans and families affected by a veteran’s service-related mental health problem.
Interviews and focus groups with service professionals (n=4) were conducted on the completion of programme development, and at regular stages during service implementation. Interviews were undertaken individually or in pairs with eight service user families, including six veterans, six partners and two children, and four veterans who chose not to take part in the service.
This article reports professionals’ experiences of service delivery and refinements made to support programme implementation, and the veteran and family opinion on service receipt, including the areas they identified that could be improved. It also details the restorative mechanisms which resulted in family changes, with the development of collective empathy being located as a crucial RA mechanism which leads to positive effects.