Impact Of Mental Illness On Family

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11th May 2017 Sociology Reference this

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A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people, the term mental disorder is also used to refer to these health problems.

Mental health problems also interfere with how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than mental illness. Mental health problems are more common and include the mental ill health that can be experienced temporarily as a reaction to the stresses of life.

Mental health problems are less severe than mental illnesses, but may develop into a mental illness if they are not effectively dealt with.

This study examines the impact mental illness has on family members. When people first knew about mental illness they thought it was demon possession, but today research has shown the effects that psychology has on treatment and recovery.

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This qualitative research was done in the area of La Brea, with questionnaires being randomly given out to 25 families. Before they answered the questionnaire they will be questioned on mental illness and given some information about the different types. After filling out the questionnaire they are going to have a choice to drop it into my mail box or personally hand it in.

The results show that many people are affected by mental illness especially young adults which can have many effects on the family, like financial stress, emotional and feelings of guilt. Mental illness can affect any one at all ages, gender, cultures, educational and income levels. What is important is the support the individual and family gets, therefore by supporting the family members it becomes easier for them to care for the sick person.

Mental health awareness should be done in communities to increase peoples understanding towards a greater mental health society so there can be less stigmatization.

Introduction

Background of the Problem

Mental illness has its earliest history of the healing arts; there has been an evolution of theories regarding the root causes of mental illness. Early writings from such ancient civilizations as those of Greece, Rome, India, and Egypt focused on demonic possession as the cause; this concept eventually disappeared only to resurface again in the Middle Ages in Europe, along with inadequate treatment of the mentally ill. Demons or “foul spirits” were believed to attach themselves to individuals and make them depressed (“poor-spirited”) or “mad.” The word mad became an early synonym for psychosis. Unfortunately, the “possessed” included people with seizure disorders as well as others were suffering from what are now known to be medical disorders. Few genuinely helpful treatments were available to relieve the suffering of the mentally ill.

By the eighteenth century they began to look at mental illness differently. It was during this time period that “madness” began to be seen as an illness beyond the control of the person rather than the act of a demon, and due to this, thousands of people were confined to dungeons of daily torture and were released to asylums where medical forms of treatment began to be investigated.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, several European neurologists began actively investigating the causes of mental illness. Chief among them, and destined to change forever the understanding of mental illness, was Sigmund Freud. Although psychology and psychiatry have advanced considerably since Freud, his explorations were revolutionary. Freud introduced the concepts of the unconscious and the ego to modern thought, and reintroduced the ancient art of dream interpretation, but from a psychological standpoint. Freud also regarded human psychological states as an energy system in which blockages in the flow of thought would result in disease or illness, expressed as mental or emotional loss of balance. He introduced the notion of a “talking cure”; through the use of talk therapy alone, and this showed many improvements to patients.

Today, the medical model continues to be a driving force in the diagnosing and treatment of mental illness, although research has shown the powerful effects that psychology has on a person’s recovery.

Statement of the Problem

What is the impact that mental health of individuals has on the lives of family members?

Purpose of the Study

The intent of this study is to understand how families cope with a member which suffers with mental illness. This study also seeks to explore how mental illness affects them and the person as they interact with other in society.

Scope of the Study

This study will assist me the student in my studies to gain an understanding and knowledge about mental illness. The result of this study will encourage people to know that mental illness is not a life sentence and that people who suffer from mental illness can recover where they can live normal lives.

Definition of Terms

Mental Illness- mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people, the term mental disorder is also used to refer to these health problems.

Diminished – to make smaller or less or to cause to appear so.

Depression – may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.

Schizophrenia – schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to, tell the difference between what is real and not real, think clearly, have normal emotional responses and act normal in social situations.

Bipolar Disorder – bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviours that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

Panic Disorder – panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety.

Interpersonal Therapy – Interpersonal therapy focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the depressed person. The idea of interpersonal therapy is that depression can be treated by improving the communication patterns and how people relate to others.

Psychosis – psychosis is a loss of contact with reality that usually includes: false beliefs about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).

Stigmatization – stigma is a perceived negative attribute that causes someone to devalue or think less of the whole person. People tend to distance themselves from individuals in stigmatized groups, to blame individuals in these groups for the perceived negative attributes, and to discriminate against and diminish the stigmatized individuals.

LITERATURE REVEW

What is the impact of mental health of individuals on the lives of family members?

Mental illness has been an area under discussion and was bounded with mystery and fear, but at present, there have been remarkable improvement in our understanding and, especially in our ability to offer effective treatments. However, questions about mental illness often go unanswered and stand in the way of people receiving help.

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Mental health refers to our cognitive, and/or emotional wellbeing – it is all about how we think, feel and behave. Mental health, if somebody has it, can also mean an absence of a mental disorder. Approximately 25% of people in the UK have a mental health problem during their lives. The USA is said to have the highest incidence of people diagnosed with mental health problems in the developed world. Your mental health can affect your daily life, relationships and even your physical health. Mental health also includes a person’s ability to enjoy life – to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder; post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with mental illness recovery is possible. Mental illnesses affect people of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Mental illness can be treated with the use of psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. It cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.

Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives.

It is very critical and of vital importance that mental illness is identified for effective recovery to be accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

The exact causes of mental disorders are unknown, but an explosive growth of research has brought us closer to the answers. We can say that certain inherited dispositions interact with triggering environmental factors. Poverty and stress are well-known to be bad for your health-this is true for mental health and physical health. In fact, the distinction between “mental” illness and “physical” illness can be misleading. Like physical illnesses, mental disorders can have a biological nature. Many physical illnesses can also have a strong emotional component.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. WHO stresses that mental health “is not just the absence of mental disorder”.

The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health, USA) mental disorders are “common in the USA and internationally”. Approximately 57.7 million Americans suffer from a mental disorder in a given year that is approximately 26.2% of adults. However, the main burden of illness is concentrated in about 1 in 17 people (6%) who suffer from a serious mental illness. Approximately half of all people who suffer from a mental disorder probably suffer from another mental disorder at the same time, experts say.

Scientists, psychiatrists, and other health care professionals know that the brain is made up in large part of essential fatty acids, water and other nutrients. The evidence is growing and becoming more compelling that diet can play a significant role in the care and treatment of people with mental health problems, including depression, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to name but a few.

According to a Swedish study, half of the family members have had to give up their own recreational pursuits. The burdens of caring for a patient at home are considerable. They often affect the caring relative’s social and leisure activities, and financial problems arise frequently. Relatives have difficulties in understanding and coming to terms with illness-related behaviour. ‘Negative’ symptoms are often a particular problem. Despite their burden, relatives do not complain much, although they receive little support, advice or information from the professionals engaged in treating the patient; much is now known about the difficulties relatives face, but we still need to know how they can best be helped.

Today’s model of psychiatric care recognizes the importance of families as part of the treatment team. Enlightened interventions which help families struggling with child abuse and neglect, domestic and community violence, substance abuse, or school failure increasingly integrate psychiatric consultation into their programs. Any or all of these interventions may be used in tailoring a treatment plan for patients.

Methodology

Mental illness affects many individuals in society, some known and others unknown. People who is affected by mental illness needs the support from family members in the process of their recovery, therefore it is extremely important that they have this which will make a major difference to their well being.

This study is a qualitative research and will be done with the use of questionnaires which will be given out to 25 families in the area of La Brea. They are going to be informed that a study is being done, in the highest of confidence and it is part of my course of study. The respondents will just have to fill out the questionnaire without their names or addresses, after it is filled out they can drop it into my mail box or they can personally hand it in.

The results of these questionnaires are going to be organized by tallying each question to understand how many people said what, and it will be presented through the use of either charts, tables and graphs.

This study on mental illness aims at investigating, How many people suffer from mental illness within their family? What did they do to assist? How they felt when their family member got sick? Were they hospitalized or they got private treatment? What support factors were there? Was there any stigmatization from anyone?

This study is going to have some unavoidable limitations, which can be the time limit of eight weeks, this research is being conducted in one limited area and the group chosen may not represent the majority suffering from mental illness.

Data Sample

The participants for this research were selected based on their availability, their willingness to participate due to the understanding that this is just for research purposes and their knowledge that mental illness is a matter people work with everyday. A selection of 25 participants will take part in the study in the area of La Brea.

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In terms of ethnic background (20) 75% African and (5) 25%East Indian background, with about 20 female and 5 male ranging from the ages 15 to 65. The participants focused on in this study have had or have family members with mental health issues.

Results

Figure 1

Figure one shows that in the district of La Brea, 60% of the homes are of African descent, 20% are of East Indian, there is no Spanish, 12%are of Mixed Ethnicity and 8% are of another descent.

Figure 2

Figure two shows that in La Brea, there are 40% of nuclear families, 40% of extended families and 20% of single parent families.

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows that 80% said yes that their family suffered from mental illness are 80% and 20% said no.

Figure 4

Mentally ill people are of different ages therefore; figure 4 shows that the highest age range is persons in the age group twenty years at 32% which indicates that younger people suffer from mental illness, then thirty five years at 28%, twenty five years at 16%, thirty eight years at 12%, and eighteen years at 4%.

Figure 5

Figure 5 shows that more males than females suffer from mental illness as 60% of males and 40% of females has at some time in their life suffered from this sickness.

Figure 6

Treatment can range be medication, counselling, change of diet or other which is a combination of two or all three. Medication was the highest being 60%, counselling and other had 20% each.

Figure 7

Mental illness can have many effects on family members as 40% were stressed, 20% each became scared and confused while 12% were sad as too the fact that their family is suffering from this and 8% were helpless because they did not know how to deal with it.

Discussion

This study looked at the impact of mental illness of individuals on the lives of family members which can be described as a painful and sometimes traumatic experience.

The majority of persons said that they had a family member who suffered from mental illness which became a bit difficult for them to go through, as some felt isolated while others needed help and support for themselves. Some family members also felt guilty and shame because they thought that they were to blame for the illness and not knowing how to handle this type of crisis.

Referring to the literature today’s model of psychiatric care recognizes the importance of families as part of the treatment process. Scientists and psychiatrists clames that diet can play a significant role in the care and treatment process.

It also states that more males than females suffer from mental illness and people between the ages of 20-35 years are highly vulnerable to this illness. Therefore, this study indicates that mental illness is real, it is treatable by medication, therapy and other modalities, as psychiatrists help patients to understand their illness.

My recommendations after doing this research on mental illness many people were not aware that there are different types and help is available. I would recommend that lectures, flyers and having activities where the community can interact with each other to increase awareness on mental illness.

Conclusion

Mental illness can have a devastating effect on an individual, his or her family, friends, and on the community in many ways. How it affects the individual is obvious, reduced ability to care for themselves, strong negative emotions, distorted thoughts, inappropriate behaviour, and reduced ability to maintain a relationship are only a few possible outcomes. On friends and family, it can be a major responsibility to care for someone suffering from a mental illness, the emotional and behavioural components of some illnesses can be very difficult at times to understand and to deal with. Mental illness also affects the community due to the high incidence of homelessness and unemployment in some serious disorders such as schizophrenia.

We as a society are starting to see that depression doesn’t mean weakness, that anxiety doesn’t mean fear, and that schizophrenia doesn’t mean violence. We finally understand that needing help for mental or emotional reasons does not represent a character flaw.

We’ve got a long way to go, but compared to the time when this was seen as demonic possession, and even compared to a few years ago, we’ve already come a great distance.

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