Maternal Schizophrenia: Psychosocial Treatment for Mothers and their ChildrenAuthor(s): Robin E. Gearing, Dana Alonzo, Caitlin Marinelli
Objective: Psychosocial treatments that address the unique needs of mothers with schizophrenia and their children are sorely lacking. In striving to explore and understand treatment of maternal schizophrenia, this paper focuses on two objectives: 1) to identify and examine specialty psychosocial interventions for parents, notably mothers with schizophrenia and their offspring; and, 2) to describe recommendations for the development of specialty psychosocial treatment for this population. Methods: A systematic literature search of peer-reviewed articles was conducted in PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Social Work Abstracts, and Social Service Abstracts databases prior to January 1, 2010. The authors reviewed each article for psychosocial interventions treating mothers diagnosed with schizophrenia and their children. Forty-three (n=43) studies were identified. Results: Two areas of specialized psychosocial interventions designed to treat maternal schizophrenia and their children were identified: 1) inpatient interventions programs, primarily Mother Baby Units (MBU); and, 2) outpatient interventions programs. Conclusions: Interventions targeting mothers with schizophrenia spectrum illnesses and their children are lacking. Women with schizophrenia are at risk for not engaging in treatment due to fears of barriers and losing their children. Although scarce, inpatient MBUs offer focused treatment, but services are limited to the baby’s first year. Minimal outpatient psychosocial treatments are available to this population. Flexible treatment approaches that incorporate environmental supports, childcare resources, child welfare systems, and family involvement are highly recommended.