Family Experiences With Mental Illness / Edition 1

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Overview

Tessler and Gamache provide substantial research on the impact of mental illness on the family through interviews conducted with hundreds of family members between 1989 and 1997. According to the authors, how families experience the mental illness of a relative depends on many social factors, including how public mental health services are organized and financed, and whether families feel judged or supported by professionals.

Most family members experience a range of emotions toward one another ranging from warmth and gratification to anger and rejection. Tessler and Gamache detail the family experience with mental illness in terms of both negative and positive feelings. They take a holistic approach to the family experience and present a variety of family responses and dilemmas. The family members whose stories are told are diverse in respect to race, gender, age, and relationship, and the demographic-clinical characteristics of their relatives with mental illness.

Tessler and Gamache find that the amount of burden that family members experience depends, in part, on which dimension of burden is being addressed. When burden is defined as assistance in daily living, it is less than what was thought. On the other hand, the subjective burden associated with supervision and control is substantial. Family role and residence contribute to most dimensions of burden. For example, a mother living with an adult son with schizophrenia will experience mental illness differently than the brother who has moved out of the family home and moved to another state. In both studies, a major finding involved lower than expected expenditures by family members for medication and mental health treatment in both studies. Most expenditures were focused instead on personal or survival needs, which for a sub-sample of family members involves considerable expenditures. This work is an important research finding for scholars, students, and professionals involved with social work, public health, and public mental health policy.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Tessler and Gamache (both sociology, U. of Massachusetts) use survey research methods to examine how the family experience with mental illness tends to be structured by factors that are external to the disorder. Among the factors examined are different kinds of family relationships, living with or apart from the relative with mental illness, the family members' attitudes toward mental illness, and relations with mental health professionals. Larger changes in the organization and financing of mental health services are also discussed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865692527
  • Publisher: ABC-Clio, LLC
  • Publication date: 3/30/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD TESSLER is Professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the University of Massachusetts' Social and Demographic Research Institute. He is the senior author of The Chronically Mentally Ill: Assessing Community Support Programs and West Meets East: Americans Adopt Chinese Children (Bergin & Garvey, 1999).

GAIL GAMACHE is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts. She is also Project Director for the Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the VA Medical Center in Northhampton, Massachusetts. She has published numerous articles with Richard Tessler, and they recently coauthored, with Liming Liu, West Meets East: Americans Adopt Chinese Children (Bergin & Garvey, 1999).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Mental Illness and the Family

Family Experiences in Ohio: 1989-1992

The Research Landscape

What Basic Needs did Family Members Provide?

What Troublesome Behaviors did Family Members Try to Control?

How Much did Family Members Spend?

What were the Emotional Costs for Family Members?

What were the Positive Aspects for Family Members?

How Involved were Other Members of the Family Household?

Family Experiences in Ohio: 1995-1997

The Research Landscape Revisited

How Much Involvement do Family Members Want?

How did Family Members Evaluate Professionals, Services, and Systems?

What did Family Members Know about Mental Health Insurance?

Implications

Dilemmas of Kinship

Bibliography

Index

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