How Does Mental Illness Affect the Family Unit? Lael Clapp Argosy University
How Does Mental Illness Affect the Family Unit57.7 million adults in the United States suffer from a mental illness (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2009).Mental illness is manifested through:• Bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder (American Psychiatric Association[APA], 2000).Mental illness encompasses:• Behavioral issues, emotional instability, cognitive malfunctions, and impairment (Zauszniewski, Bekhet, & Suresky, 2008).Mental health disorder in the United States are responsible for more than 15% of the overall disease, more than all forms of cancer combined (Surgeon General’s Report, 1996).
The Impact of Mental Illness on the Family UnitApproximately 40% of individuals discharged from a psychiatric facility return to the care of family members (Johnson, 2000).Family members carry a heavy burden when caretaking for a mentally ill family member as a result of disruptive behaviors, disrupted routines within the family unit, and little outside support due to stigma associated with mental illness (Zauszniewski et al., 2008).Family members are impacted by mental illness experience:• Social isolation, financial hardship, marital problems, and increased genetic risks in mental health issues
The Members ChildrenNearly 23% of children in the United States live with parents who have a mental illness (Reupert, & Maybery, 2007).Children of parents with a mental illness run a greater risk of:• Lower physical health, lower psychological health, and lower social health than do other children (Reupert, & Maybery, 2007).Children of parents who are mentally ill:• Are forced to take on responsibilities of the parent they are not equipped to handle• Often develop attachment problems due to instability in parental emotional behavior• Tend to have relational issues throughout childhood and adulthood (Reupert, & Maybery, 2007).
The Members Siblings• Siblings in the family unit are impacted by mental illness with the onset assessment, and coping of illness in a sibling Lukens, Thorning, & Lohrer, 2004).• Because of the bond between siblings due to shared background and experiences, mental illness in a sibling can be impact in a disruptive and very stressful way (Lukens, et al., 2004).• Siblings experience tremendous duress and strain on their relationships with other family members because they feel the need to continually strive toward building hopefulness and resilience for the entire family unit (Lukens, et al., 2004).
The Members Parents12 million children in America suffer from mental illness (Scharer, 2002).• Parents experience financial stress while trying to meet medical needs of their child (DeRigne, 2010).• Parents are often faced with the decision of whether or not to relinquish custody of their child in order that the child might receive adequate treatment, which causes extreme guilt on the part of the parent (DeRigne, 2010).• Marriages are greatly impacted due to stress, lack of time for intimacy, and feelings of inadequacy that span all aspects of coping with mental illness in a child (Cook, Hoftschmidt, Cohler, & Pickett, 1992).
The Members Females38.8% of female caregivers suffer from depressive disorders, 20.9% suffer from somatoform disorders, and 23.95 suffer from anxiety disorders (Zauszniewski, et al., 2008).• Females in the family unit are greatly impacted by a mentally ill family member (Schudlich, et al., 2008).The majority of individual who caregive for a family member with a mental illness are female (Zauszniewski, et al., 2008).The burden of caretaking causes negative thought patterns leading to clinical depression and other health issues (Zauszniewski, et al., 2008).
Caretaking Stress• Caregivers often do not know how to give care or where to find treatment for a loved one (Pickett-Shenk, et al., 2006).• Lack of information and knowledge creates a tens environment that contributes to relapse in the mentally ill individual (Rea, et al., 2003).• Exclusion from the mentally ill loved one’s process of treatment is stressful for to the family (Johnson, 2000).• Not understanding enough about medications and being included as team members with professionals creates stress for the family (Johnson, 2000).
Caregivers Stress Reducers• Pharmacotherapy through psychosocial experiences can minimize stress (Rea, et al., 2003).• Medication and conformity along with improved psychosocial performance can reduce familial stress (Rea, et al., 2003).• The parent’s ability to modify aspect of the environment that are triggers for the mentally ill individual will reduce familial stress (Rea, et al., 2003).• Group therapy and family-led programs greatly reduce stress (Johnson, 2000).
Conclusion• Caregivers of a family member with mental illness need to be understood before help can be implemented that directly impacts the family unit• Coping with a mentally ill family member is a many sided attempt that requires change on all levels (Beigin, et al., 2008).• Understanding the caregiver’s needs, implementing solutions for those needs, and offering support to all the family unit members will assist in offering better quality of life to each member of the family unit (Johnson, 2000).
ReferencesAmerican Psychiatric Association. (2000). Desk reference to the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV-TR. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.Cook, J. A., Hoffschmidt, S., Cohler, B. J., & Pickett, S. (1992). Marital satisfaction among parents of the severely mentally ill living in the community. American Orthopsychiatric Association, 62(4), 552-563. doi: 10. 1037/h0079370DeRigne, L. (2010). What are the parent-reported reasons for unmet mental health needs in children? Health & Social Work, 33(1), 7-15.Johnson, E. D., (2000). Differences among families coping with serious mental illness: A qualitative analysis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(1), 126-134.Lukens, E. P., Thorning, H, & Lohrer, S. (2004). Sibling perspectives on severe mental illness: Reflections on self and family. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74(4), 489-501. doi: 10.1037/0002-94220.127.116.119National Institute on mental Health (NIMH). (2009). Statistics: The impact of mental illness on society. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/statistics/index.shtmlPickett-Schenk, S. A., Lippincott, R., Bennett, C., Cook, J. A., Steigman, P., Villagracia, I.,& Grey. (2006). Changes in caregiving satisfaction and information needs among relatives of adults with mental illness: Results of a randomized evaluation of a family-led education intervention. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78(4), 545-553. doi: 10.1037/0002-9418.104.22.1685
Cont’dReupert, A., & Maybery, D. (2007). Families affected by parental mental illness: A multi- perspective account of issues and interventions. American Journal of Orthopsychology, 77(3), 362-369. doi: 10.1037/0002-9422.214.171.1242Rea, M. M., Tompson, M. C., Miklowitz, D. J., Goldstein, M. J., Hwang, S., & Mintz, J.(2003). Family-focused treatment versus individual treatment for bipolar disorder: Results of a randomized clinical treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 482-492. doi: 10.1037/0022-6X.71.3.482Scharer, K. (2002). What parents of mentally ill children need and want from mental health professionals. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 23(6), 617-640. doi: 10.1080/8161284029005275 8Schudlich, T., D., Youngstrom, E. A., Calabrese, J., R., & Findling, R. L. (2008). The role of the family functioning in bipolar disorder in families. Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 849-863. doi: 10.1007/s10802-9217-9U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter1/sec1.htmlZauszniewski, J. A., Bekhet, A. K., & Suresky, M. J. (2008). Factors associated with perceived burden, resourcefulness, and quality of life in female family members of adults with serious mental illness. American Psychiartic Nurses Association, 14(2), 125-135. doi: 10.1177/1078390308315612
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