Mental illness affects the entire family. In the survey, more than two-thirds of caregivers (68%) are the parents or step-parents of the person living with schizophrenia. Brothers and sisters comprised 12% of caregivers and 7% are spouses or significant others. Seven percent of caregivers are the children or grandchildren of the person under their care. The greatest challenge for all these family members is simply finding treatment providers and services for their loved ones.
Caregivers' ranking of the factors that would be most helpful for improving the condition of the persons in their care closely mirrored that of the persons who live with schizophrenia.
At the same time, the challenges caregivers face can be as significant as those affecting people living with schizophrenia.
Less than half--but still a high proportion (43%)--indicate they are afraid of the person in their care. The U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health has noted that risks of violence are higher for family members. At the same time, the NIMH "Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness" (CATIE) study found that people diagnosed with schizophrenia who lived with their families and felt "listened to most of the time" had half the rate of violence of those who felt less supported.
Worth noting is the fact that 71% of caregivers who took part in the NAMI survey believe that the condition of the person they care would improve if caregivers received respite care.Continue to Recommendations »
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