The findings reported here form part of a larger research project that examined non-compliance with medication among the mentally ill patients attending public clinics in a specific parish in Jamaica. The aim of the research was to explore the perceptions of caregivers about caring for the mentally ill at two outpatient psychiatric clinics. Caregivers involved in looking after their relatives with mental illness played a vital role in mental health promotion. This study sought to examine the caregivers' perception of mental illness, including how they thought the illness was best controlled, the reasons why their relatives found it difficult to take their medication as instructed, and the coping skills that they employed when caring for their relatives. There were two focus groups, consisting of four individuals each, at two psychiatric clinics. The results revealed the following about the majority of the caregivers. First, it was recognised that caregivers have a good knowledge (and awareness) of medication usage inferred by either the absence or the presence of their relatives' symptoms. Secondly, they sometimes felt sad and hopeless as a result of being the victims of violent attacks by those for whom they provided care. Thirdly, they highlighted issues of cost, accessibility and availability of medications as being problematic. Fourthly, in some cases they received little or no assistance from other family members.
Keywords: Jamaica; caregivers; family; medication; mental illness; relationship.
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