Amidst the heavy emotional toll of taking care of a loved one with schizophrenia, new research reveals that, for many family members, there is a positive personal growth aspect.
As part of her doctorate in clinical psychology, Rachel Morton of Queensland University of Technology’s School of Psychology and Counseling in Australia interviewed relatives of people with schizophrenia to gain a better understanding of the disorder’s impact on the family.
“Most relatives identified that having a relative with schizophrenia contributed to their own personal development, such as having greater compassion for those with mental health issues and having a greater appreciation for what is important in their life,” she said.
According to Morton, one participant reported that living with someone with schizophrenia had influenced her own career choice to become a health professional. In another example, a family member credited living with someone with schizophrenia to giving life new meaning.
As a result of the findings, Morton plans to conduct a worldwide survey to determine whether or not personal growth and benefits are common across a wider cross-section of family members living with a loved one with schizophrenia.
Morton will be interviewing participants over the age of 16 who have a first-degree family member with schizophrenia and who have lived with that person at some point during their diagnosis.
“Family members frequently reported that the nature of schizophrenia meant their relative required a range of support, including financial, social, and assistance in getting treatment, all of which were reported to take a large emotional toll on the family members themselves,” said Morton.
“It was common for people to report frustration with some mental health professionals and systems.
“I want to investigate this issue more widely and further explore the stress they feel and how family members cope with this stress,” she said.
“This survey is important because family members often get forgotten when health professionals are dealing with people with schizophrenia.”