Original Research

The strengths of families in supporting mentally-ill family members

Masego C. Mokgothu, Emmerentia Du Plessis, Magdalena P. Koen
Curationis | Vol 38, No 1 | a1258 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i1.1258 | © 2015 Masego C. Mokgothu, Emmerentia Du Plessis, Magdalena P. Koen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2013 | Published: 10 April 2015

About the author(s)

Masego C. Mokgothu, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Emmerentia Du Plessis, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Magdalena P. Koen, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Although families caring for a mentally-ill family member may experience challenges, some of these families may display strengths that help them to overcome difficulties and grow even stronger in caring for their family member. In cases where these families are unable to cope, the mentally-ill family member tends to relapse. This indicated the need to explore the strengths of families that cope with caring for mentally-ill family members.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the strengths of families in supporting mentally-ill family members in Potchefstroom in the North-West Province.

Method: A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual design was employed, with purposive sampling and unstructured individual interviews with nine participants. Tesch’seight steps of thematic content analysis were used.

Results: Twelve themes emerged from the data. This involved strengths such as obtaining treatment, utilising external resources, faith, social support, supervision, calming techniques, keeping the mentally-ill family member busy, protecting the mentally-ill family member from negative outside influences, creative communication, praise and acceptance.

Conclusion: Families utilise external strengths as well as internal strengths in supporting their mentally-ill family member. Recommendations for nursing practice, nursing education and for further research could be formulated. Psychiatric nurses should acknowledge families’ strengths and, together with families, build on these strengths, as well as empower families further through psycho-education and support.


Keywords

family, mentally ill family members, support, strengths, mental illness

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