Effect On Parents Of Children With Mental Health Illness

Effect On Parents Of Children With Mental Health Illness

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Effect On Parents Of Children With Mental Health Illness

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Effect On Parents Of Children With Mental Health Illness

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Question:
Discuss about the Effect on Parents of Children with Mental Health Illness.
 
Answer:

Introduction
Mental illness is a psychological condition that is chronic and should be dealt with appropriately to prevent harm to the society, oneself and to nearby members of the family. Especially, when a child is mentally challenged the problem can be a huge setback for the parents. Mental health disorder among children is a concern for the society and parents both. It is estimated that around 15 million children can be diagnosed with some form of mental health disorder (Organization, Association, Child, Psychiatry, & Professions, 2005). Many other may be at risk due to their family, society, community, schools or due to genetic predisposition. Therefore there is a great need of intervention by professionals and parents both so as to enable them to live a life that is close enough to being normal (Kelly, Jorm, & Wright, 2007). Dealing with such situation is not easy and parents have to undergo a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. The present study aims to bring about understanding physical and psychological aspects of parenting a child with mental illness and ways to cope with such conditions so that parents could provide the best to their child.
 
Background
Growing children with mental illness, equivocally, have the right to live a normal life like their normal peer. They also need to be given equal opportunities of care and management irrespective of their social and monetary status.  Based on the environment and conditions they live, parents of mentally disoriented patients need to undertake a long term commitment towards providing the best care of their child (Williams, Yu, Jackson, & Anderson, 1997). This is easier said than done as there are lots of factors that can hamper the management of such children. As for example, situations may arise within the family apart from the social stigma (dosReis, Barksdale, Sherman, Maloney, & Charach, 2010), that is inherent in such cases, from the society. Therefore it can be mentally and physically taxing for the parent.
Apart from the psychological impact on the parents it can be economically unfavourable for the family to deal with treatment procedures which can even add up to the woes. Taking care of a child with mental illness can be demanding and may occupy most of a parent’s day to day life. It is an indispensable step to take care of the child suffering from the disease and at the same time the parent should not forget to take care of oneself. Since it will consume most of the time it is wise to prioritize works and challenges that one may face so that the parent does not neglect important aspects of personal life. In a study involving Chinese subjects with children suffering from mental illness it was observed that parents received a significant level of caregiver burden during the management of their child’s condition. The burden is further augmented by minimal means available to cope with the burden. If the physical health of the parent and the educational level of the child is good then the coping with caregiver burden seems to be less (Liu, Lambert, & Lambert, 2007). The study also indicates need for intervention by nurses to ease the burden on parents.
Another very important outcome of a child’s mental condition to the parents is of self-blame, grief and social stigmatisation of the self. In a number of studies (Atkinson, 1994; Godress, Ozgul, Owen, & Foley-Evans, 2005; MacGregor, 1994) it has been observed that parenting a mentally ill child can cause grief as a result of inability to cope with the situation and of being constantly being reminded of the differently enabled child. However, the severity of grief tends to be normalized over time if the parent-child relationship is good (Godress et al., 2005). The extent of grief and the severity seems to be associated with parents who are psychologically weak and hampered parent-child bonding.
Stigma and stigmatization remains one of the major concern for those associated with mentally ill patients. It is often a challenge for clinicians when prescribing psychiatric medications to children as the parents seem to be sceptical over it most of the time which overlooked the effective treatment that is provided (Hinshaw, 2005). This will eventually have a negative effect on the betterment of the concerned child because such parents are most likely to avoid treatment options that are available. In studies carried out on parents with children with mental illness it was estimated that around 45% of the parent feels the doctors have prescribed medications over the actual requirement to their child and another 40% agrees to that to some extent (Pescosolido, Perry, Martin, McLeod, & Jensen, 2007). They also felt that long-term medication can cause developmental effects to their child. In the study majority of the parents feel that medication is a way to delay the onset of real problems and that it blunts the personality of the patient concerned.
In similar trend, parents of mentally ill patients feel that treatment procedures of mental illness given to their child will lead to reduced self-confidence of their child and may reduce their grade at school. Moreover, parents are also concerned of people of the community knowing about the treatment their child is undertaking (dosReis et al., 2010). Overall, the scenario represents stigmatization of the self and their children which can have a strong negative effect on the psychological well-being and self-esteem.
It is not only psychological aspects that is affected but physical well-being can also deteriorate in the care givers, more so in older parents. The continuous stress and physical as well as psychological demands of mentally ill patient can affect the physiological condition of caregivers and can lead to increased mortality. The burden on the parents can be so severe that it can cause depressive symptoms and a low quality of life. Burden on the parents is in direct proportionality with severity of the mental condition. In a study of parents of school-age children with Asperger syndrome it was found that mothers of such children scored low in physical health than controls and that the female counterpart suffers more than the father of the patients (Allik, Larsson, & Smedje, 2006).
Although there are various studies on the impact on children with parents suffering from mental illness, there are limited number of studies on the impact of children with mental illness on the parents. The study tries to investigate the factors that can influence parents towards providing best care for a mentally ill child.
Research Question
Based on the limited numbers of literature available for reference of the study we assume that there must be significant pressure on parents of mentally ill children. The present investigation aims to find out if parenting a child with mental illness is challenging for parents compare to parents of normal children? If the mother suffers more than the father? And, if economic condition and education level can play a role in it?
 
Research Methodology
Choosing the correct research methodology will enable us to come to an unbiased conclusion to the research questions. Two of the research methodologies that are used are; quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative research approach employs a more flexible setting than the quantitative research which is always a closed-ended question to the participants. Qualitative research method, on the other hand, is less formal than quantitative and frees the participants to express their views on a given scenario rather than answering it on a scale of 1 to 10 (Abawi, 2008). The present study will employ a mixed approach of both quantitative and qualitative method called the grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). The grounded theory is an inductive research method to theorize a concept based on observation rather than prove a hypothesis. The present scenario demands an inductive approach and the grounded theory suits best as this approach will enable us a good comparison between groups and also find out personal views of the participants to come to a conclusion.
The participants will be recruited based on hospital records. At least 100 children suffering from mental illness living with both parents will be selected and another 100 normal children living with both parents will be selected. Parents of both the population should be free of any psychological ailments before and at the time of study. The participants will be made aware of the research before the time of enrolment. Questionnaire with both open ended (qualitative) and closed ended (quantitative) based on a Likert scale will be provided to the participants. The questionnaire will be short and precise and aimed to be completed with minimum pressure for the convenience of the participants as a lengthy questionnaire is less likely to be completed (Fan & Yan, 2010). The quantitative data will be analysed statistically by SPSS. 
 
Ethical Consideration
During the research, it is of moral responsibility for the researcher to protect the participants from any untoward events that may arise from the research. It is the obligation of the researcher to protect the identity of the participants so that the research remains unbiased and a true cause could be ascertained (Beins, 2012). The possible ethical concern that may bias the study is stigmatization (Hinshaw, 2005; Tew et al., 2011)of the participants and hence a strict means of privacy and confidentiality should be maintained. The current investigation will be followed by an informed consent of the participants which will ensure voluntary participation after understanding the purpose of the study and the risks and benefits associated with it. The participants will be detailed about the duration of the study, the purpose, rights to participate or not to participate, the right to confidentiality of the data and the possible impact of the research on the community etc. A signed copy of the consent form from participants will be taken and questionnaire provided. Participants will be asked not to write their name or any identification mark on the questionnaire so that they feel confident to answer. Questionnaires will be provided in sealed envelope and answers collected in the same manner to ensure privacy.
 
Strength and Limitations
The use of grounded theory is questioned by many researcher and therefore, an establishment of proper research method to prove the credibility and reproducibility remains essential when utilizing the theory. Any type of research should be reproducible and set as a base model for future research therefore reliability, credibility and reproducibility are of prime concern to a researcher. Since the present method uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative research towards deducing a theory of possible hurdles faced by parents with children suffering from mental illness the methodology is reliable in itself. Although there is always a question of reliability on self-reported data the limitation is neutralized by providing a confidential approach to the participants. The method also employs a comparison of different social strata of participants and will be representative of similar settings that exists elsewhere. As with the informed consent, participants were allowed to withdraw from the study at will and hence we can rely on the answers provided since participants who felt confident only participated in the study. The strength of the paper lies with the fact that a large number of participants (parents with or without children with mental illness) will be recruited for a good comparison between mental and social status of participants and outcome of care for their children can be estimated. With a good database and analysis method involving SPSS for quantitative analysis, the study will not be only based on stories and emotions told by the participants but a combination of statistical proof and self-report. With the approach the research outcome will be authentic and reliable as well as reproducible in different other settings.
The limitation of the study is that it will encompass mental illness as a general term and not specify the type and cause of the illness. This may lead to difference in difficulty met by parents, which, by far may not be possible to normalize in our study. 
 
References 
Abawi, K. (2008). Qualitative and quantitative research. World Health.
Allik, H., Larsson, J.-O., & Smedje, H. (2006). Health-related quality of life in parents of school-age children with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. Health and quality of life outcomes, 4(1), 1.
Atkinson, S. D. (1994). Grieving and loss in parents with a schizophrenic child. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151(8), 1137-1139.
Beins, B. C. (2012). Research methods: A tool for life: Pearson Higher Ed.
dosReis, S., Barksdale, C. L., Sherman, A., Maloney, K., & Charach, A. (2010). Stigmatizing experiences of parents of children with a new diagnosis of ADHD. Psychiatric Services, 61(8), 811-816.
Fan, W., & Yan, Z. (2010). Factors affecting response rates of the web survey: A systematic review. Computers in human behavior, 26(2), 132-139.
Godress, J., Ozgul, S., Owen, C., & Foley-Evans, L. (2005). Grief experiences of parents whose children suffer from mental illness. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 39(1-2), 88-94.
Hinshaw, S. P. (2005). The stigmatization of mental illness in children and parents: Developmental issues, family concerns, and research needs. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(7), 714-734.
Kelly, C. M., Jorm, A. F., & Wright, A. (2007). Improving mental health literacy as a strategy to facilitate early intervention for mental disorders. Med J Aust, 187(7 Suppl), S26-30.
Liu, M., Lambert, C. E., & Lambert, V. A. (2007). Caregiver burden and coping patterns of Chinese parents of a child with a mental illness. International journal of mental health nursing, 16(2), 86-95.
MacGregor, P. (1994). Grief: The unrecognized parental response to mental illness in a child. Social Work, 39(2), 160-166.
Organization, W. H., Association, W. P., Child, I. A. f., Psychiatry, A., & Professions, A. (2005). Atlas: child and adolescent mental health resources: global concerns, implications for the future: World Health Organization.
Pescosolido, B. A., Perry, B. L., Martin, J. K., McLeod, J. D., & Jensen, P. S. (2007). Stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs about treatment and psychiatric medications for children with mental illness. Psychiatric Services.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded theory methodology. Handbook of qualitative research, 17, 273-285.
Tew, J., Ramon, S., Slade, M., Bird, V., Melton, J., & Le Boutillier, C. (2011). Social factors and recovery from mental health difficulties: a review of the evidence. British journal of social work, bcr076.
Williams, D. R., Yu, Y., Jackson, J. S., & Anderson, N. B. (1997). Racial differences in physical and mental health socio-economic status, stress and discrimination. Journal of health psychology, 2(3), 335-351.

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