Involving Families in the Care of Persons with Schizophrenia and Other Serious Mental Illnesses: History, Evidence, and RecommendationsAuthor(s): Amy L. Drapalski , Jaclyn Leith , Lisa Dixon
Families of individuals with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses often provide considerable support to their ill relatives, yet many remain unaware of or unable to access resources and information to help them effectively manage their caregiver role. Consequently, family members may experience burden and subsequent distress. There is substantial evidence to suggest that participation in family services and family involvement in a consumer’s clinical care can minimize family burden, leading to better outcomes for the consumer and the family. Unfortunately, few families have contact with their relatives’ treatment teams, and even less participate in formal support or educational programs. There are a number of consumer-, family-, provider-, and service-related barriers, which may inhibit family involvement. However, many of these barriers can be overcome when a more individualized, tailored approach to working with families is used. The current paper provides an overview of the impact of mental illness on the family and the role of the family in recovery, a summary of available services, and recommendations for ways to work with consumers and families to overcome barriers to family involvement and increase the likelihood of family participation in care.