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Contributions of Persons With Serious Mental Illness to Their Families
Jan Steven Greenberg; James R. Greenley; Patricia Benedict
Psychiatric Services 1994; doi:
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This paper was prepared in pant with the assistance of National Institute of Mental Health grants MH-45988 and MH-43555. The authors thank Mary Ann Test, Ph.D., Martha Selzer, Ph.D., Mona Wasow, M.S.S.W., and Deborah Allness, M.S.S.W., for comments on earlier drafts.

University of Wisconsin, 1350 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

1994 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Objective: This study investigated the contributions that persons with serious mental illness make to their families according to both clients and family respondents. Methods: The sample consisted of725 clients with serious mental illness and 725 family respondents living in rural counties or counties with small urban areas in Wisconsin. Clients were in contact with family respondents at least three times a year; 23.7 percent of them lived with the respondent. Clients returned a questionnaire, and family respondents completed a telephone interview; both rated the amount of help the client gave in eight areas such as household chores, shopping, and companionship. Results: Overall, the clients, especially those who lived with their families, provided substantial help. For the total sample, clients where most likely to contribute by providing companionship; family respondents reported that 59 percent of clients gave such help. For dients who lived with respondents, between 50 and 80 percent helped by doing household chores, shopping, listening to problems, providing companionship, and providing news about family and friends, according to family respondents. Conclusions: Many persons with severe mental illness play positive roles in their families. Recognition of clientsś contributions by providers, researchers, and clients and families themselves could help reduce stigma and expand community opportunities for persons with severe mental illness.

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