The strengths of families in supporting mentally-ill family members

Curationis. 2015 Apr 10;38(1):1258. doi: 10.4102/curationis.v38i1.1258.


Background: Although families caring for a mentally-ill family member may experience challenges, some of these families may display strengths that help them to overcome difficulties and grow even stronger in caring for their family member. In cases where these families are unable to cope, the mentally-ill family member tends to relapse. This indicated the need to explore the strengths of families that cope with caring for mentally-ill family members.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the strengths of families in supporting mentally-ill family members in Potchefstroom in the North-West Province.

Method: A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual design was employed, with purposive sampling and unstructured individual interviews with nine participants. Tesch's eight steps of thematic content analysis were used.

Results: Twelve themes emerged from the data. This involved strengths such as obtaining treatment, utilising external resources, faith, social support, supervision, calming techniques, keeping the mentally-ill family member busy, protecting the mentally-ill family member from negative outside influences, creative communication, praise and acceptance.

Conclusion: Families utilise external strengths as well as internal strengths in supporting their mentally-ill family member. Recommendations for nursing practice, nursing education and for further research could be formulated. Psychiatric nurses should acknowledge families' strengths and, together with families, build on these strengths, as well as empower families further through psycho-education and support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Communication
  • Empathy*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support*
  • South Africa