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Family support study

A study of experiences, needs and support requirements of families with enduring mental illness in Ireland

The project investigated experiences and needs of relatives of persons with enduring mental illness. This was defined as an illness of two or more years' duration which required contact with mental health services at least twice within one year. The study involved semi-structured interviews with 38 participants from Dublin city and county who were closely related to people with enduring mental illness.

The study indicated that there is a lack of support available to families with enduring mental illness in Ireland. Voluntary support resources provided by Schizophrenia Ireland were viewed by participants as the best, and often the only, support resources available to families. There was a perceived lack of uniformity of services and supports provided to service users and their families across different catchment areas and public and private sectors.

The research findings identified basic supports required for carers and families at various stages of mental illness, such as the initial encounter, first treatment provision, discharge, relapse and rehabilitation. All participants expressed the need for an approachable mental health services contact, a key worker, or a 'mediator' between families, service users, and mental health services at all stages of their experience.

The findings of the study make recommendations for service providers and policy-makers in order to design and maintain effective support resources for the families of persons with mental illness.

A full copy of the report is available from publications section of the HRB website at www.hrb.ie/publications.