Families living with parental mental illness and their experiences of family interventions

M Afzelius , L Plantin , M Östman
Families living with parental mental illness and their experiences of family interventions
J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs
DOI: 10.1111/jpm.12433
children of parents with mental illness; families; family intervention; parental mental illness; parents with mental illness; psychiatric services

Abstract: Introduction Although research has shown that evidence-based family interventions in research settings improve the communication and understanding of parental mental illness, there is a lack of knowledge about interventions in an everyday clinical context. Aim This study explores how families with parental mental illness experience family interventions in a natural clinical context in psychiatric services. Method Five families with children aged 10-12 were recruited from psychiatric services in southern Sweden and interviewed in a manner inspired by naturalistic inquiry and content analysis. Both family and individual interviews were performed. Results In striving to lead an ordinary life while coping with the parental mental illness, these families sought the support of the psychiatric services, especially in order to inform their children about the mental illness. Despite different family interventions, the family members felt supported and reported that the number of conflicts in the family had decreased. The parents were appreciative of help with child-rearing questions, and the children experienced a calmer family atmosphere. However, the partner of the person with mental illness experienced being left without support. Implications for practice Our study shows that psychiatric services, and especially mental health nurses, are in a position to more regularly offer family interventions in supporting the children and the healthy partners.

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