The experience of caring for a person with a mental illness: A grounded theory study
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Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A substantive theory that explained the experience of caring for a person with a mental illness was developed using grounded theory methodology. When participants began caring, they were overwhelmed by the role and consumed by what was happening to the ill family member, to themselves, and to their family. This state was conceptualized as a social psychological problem called being consumed. In managing the experience of being consumed, all carers engaged in a social psychological process, call seeking balance. During this process, carers moved to a state where their commitment to the ill family member was more balanced and proportionate to other areas of their lives. The implications of this research include the need for increased collaboration between health professionals, policy makers, and carers along with the recognition that mental illness impacts on the individual, their family, and the community at many levels. The findings also provide health professionals with a valuable insight into caring. The need to decrease the stigma directed towards people with a mental illness is important to facilitate the person's integration into the community and sustain a cohesive level of family life. To support this, the general population requires increased education to be better prepared at a community level to effectively support the ill person and their family.
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