The strengths of families in supporting mentally ill family members
Mokgothu, Masego Cynthia,
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Since the introduction of the deinstitutionalisation policy in 1997 in South Africa, many families have agreed or have felt forced to take full responsibility of the care of their mentally ill family members. This impacted the lives of families because they were not well prepared for caring for their mentally ill family members. As a result of this, families were burdened, mentally ill family members defaulted treatment and ultimately revolving door admissions occurred. In spite of these concerns, some families do seem to cope with supporting their mentally ill family members. This makes it vital to explore and describe the strengths of families who take care of mentally ill family members in Potchefstroom, in the North West Province in order to formulate guidelines to support these families. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual design was employed to understand what strengths families have to support their mentally ill family members. Purposive sampling was used to select potential participants. Unstructured individual interviews with an open-ended question were conducted with nine participants after ethical approval was granted under the RISE study (Strengthening the Resilience of Health Caregivers and Risk Groups), and the permission of the North-West Provincial Department of Health, the psychiatric hospital where the data was collected and the family members of the mentally ill family members were obtained. Data were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A consensus meeting was held between the researcher and the co-coder after they had analysed data independently to identify themes that emerged from the data. Twelve themes emerged from the data namely the strengths of getting the necessary treatment for the mentally ill family member, utilizing external resources, spirituality or faith, social support, supervising the mentally ill family member, finding ways to calm the mentally ill family member, explaining the importance of treatment to the mentally ill family member, finding ways to keep the mentally ill family member busy, trying to keep the mentally ill family member away from negative outside influences, trying creative ways to communicate with or understand the mentally ill family member, giving the mentally ill family member praise for doing something good or right and accepting the situation. From the findings, it is clear that the families do have strengths to support their mentally ill family members, although they seem to rely more on external than on internal strengths. From the findings, literature and conclusions of this study, recommendations were made for nursing practice, nursing research and nursing education, including guidelines to support families in their support of a mentally ill family member.
- Health Sciences