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Identität und Stigma. Psychosoziale und biografische Integrationsformen und Ausschlussmechanismen von Nachkommen psychisch kranker Eltern

English title Children of Parents with Mental Illness. Psychological and Biographical Mechanisms of Integration and Exclusion
Applicant Sollberger Daniel
Number 69196
Funding scheme NRP 51 Social Integration and Social Exclusion
Research institution Psychiatrische Klinik Universitäre Psychiatrische Kliniken UPK
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.05.2003 - 31.07.2006
Approved amount 285'238.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Health Education
Mental Disorders, Psychosomatic Diseases
Medico-Social Problems of Youth

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Children of parents with mental illness

How do the children of parents with mental illness cope? Children’s narrative descriptions of their situations as well as psychosocial integration as a function of the coping strategies that they use are being investigated through autobiographical interviews.

Since the institutional reforms in psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, there has been increasing research within social psychiatry on family members of the mentally ill. However, little attention has been paid to the children of mentally ill parents, the burdens placed on them by their parents’ illnesses and the psychosocial consequences. This project addresses the gap in the research. The study focuses on children’s subjective experience of the problems, health-protecting factors and the children’s forms of coping.

Aim and method
The project aims to produce findings on the (a) sociocultural significance of mental illness, (b) identity
construction in the narratives of children of mentally ill parents, and (c) subjective burdens and forms of coping as related to psychosocial integration and health. The project has an interdisciplinary design. Using the research instrument of the autobiographical narrative interview, a qualitative study is analysing affected children’s narratives. A quantitative study is tapping affected children’s coping strategies and their health by means of a questionnaire survey in order to test hypotheses on the connection between coping and well-being. The findings produced by the two different methodological approaches to the question of dealing with illness in narratives and coping will be set in relation to one another.

The findings will raise the awareness of professionals and laypersons of the special burdens experienced by children of mentally ill parents, which up to now have been neglected in both social-psychiatric research and in counselling and intervention practice. This will also foster efforts to counteract tabooization and stigmatization. The consideration of subjective interpretations in a qualitative study of narrative coping and the focus on affected children’s resources and coping strategies will be an addition to the previous research in this area. The results can also serve as a basis for practical implementation of preventive counselling and intervention measures for parents and children.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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