Strengths of families to limit relapse in mentally ill family members
Background: Relapse prevention in mental health care is important. Utilising the strengths of families can be a valuable approach in relapse prevention. Studies on family strengths have been conducted but little has been done on the strengths of family members to help limit relapse in mental health care users. The purpose of this research was to explore and describe the strengths of family members in assisting mental health care users to limit relapses.
Methods: A phenomenological design was followed. Purposive sampling was used and 15 family members of mental health care users who have not relapsed in the previous two years participated. Individual unstructured interviews were conducted. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Four main themes were identified, namely accepting the condition of the mental health care users, having faith, involving the mentally ill family members in daily activities and being aware of what aggravates the mentally ill family members.
Conclusions: Family members go through a process of acceptance and receive educational information and assistance from health professionals. In this process families discover and apply their strengths to limit relapses of mentally ill family members. It is important that family members caring for mentally ill family members are involved in their treatment from the onset, and that they are guided through a process of acceptance.
Keywords: Families mental health care users, Mentally ill family members, Resilience, Relapse, Strengths