Support needs and experiences of young people living in families with mental illness

Timothy Budden, Ahmad Hafizuddin, James A. Dimmock, Kwok Hong Law, Bonnie J. Furzer, Ben Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Children and adolescents living in families affected by mental illness are at elevated risk of developing mental health problems. A range of interventions have been designed to help these young people; however, the effectiveness of these programs is, in some cases, mixed. Our aim was to understand in detail the support needs and experiences of a group of Australian children and adolescents living in families with mental illness.

Methods: Our study is a qualitative in nature. In 2020−2021, we interviewed 25 Australian young people (Mage= 13.60, SD = 2.26, 20 females and 5 males) living with family members affected by mental illness to understand their (the young people's) experiences, and to identify the types of support that these young people considered important or effective. We conducted reflexive thematic analyses of interview data, underpinned by interpretivist assumptions.

Results:
We identified seven themes within two higher‐order categories reflecting our aims to understand (1) lived experiences within families affected by mental illness (i.e., increased responsibilities, missing out, and stigmatization), and (2) support experiences, needs, and preferences (i.e., respite, shared experiences with like‐minded others, education, and flexibility).

Conclusions: Our findings hold substantial practical value by informing services, interventions, and conversations that better support young people living in families affected by mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-796
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Volume95
Issue number4
Early online date19 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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