Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Resilience in families in which a member has been diagnosed with schizophrenia


What do Family members think of this research? Is it right, from your experience?


Due to the extensive focus of the literature on the burden placed on families in which a member has been diagnosed with a mental illness such as schizophrenia, there is a need to identify factors that may help these families to be resilient and adapt to their crisis. The aim of this study was to identify family resilience qualities in families in which a member has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.


The following family resilience qualities were identified as resources that helped them to adapt to the many challenges put to them: family income, finding support in their community, the availability of hospitals, churches and professionals, family togetherness, family communication, family hardiness, commitment to the family, reframing crises as a challenge, and an internal locus of control within the family.

Note: I wasn’t sure what “locus of control” meant - so looked it up. Here is more info:



I think it depends personally on a few things that aren’t mentioned above.

  1. Tthe family member who is afflicted with schizophrenia. Is it a child/teen/grown adult child, a spouse, sibling, or offspring? Resilience, as you may expect, will be different for each of those persons in the family too, depending on their own needs. I think it would be very difficult to expect to increase resilience in a young child with a parent with sz for example when that child is dependent on them for their own care. And for an elderly parent with a grown adult child with sz, it’s the same, as their own needs are different and perhaps the “income” that is spoken of above is not there due to retirement.

  2. Where the person with sz is living. Are they living inside the family unit, alone, or at an assisted living facility, for example? Having a person with sz in your own home is likely to be a greater challenge, for some families at least, than if they were able to take a break from 24/7 care.

I do agree however that family income, community support and extended family togetherness (not just the nuclear family…mom, dad, kids) plays a large part in the resilience this research speaks of.

My two cents worth.


I relate to the “reframing crisis as a challenge” quality. I feel as though I do that as a way of coping. Probably why I feel so let down when I see my son slipping further, despite my efforts. I’ve never worked so hard at anything in my life with so few results. But because of this forum, I am encouraged not to give up.

I think the qualities mentioned are pretty accurate. I was sad to see the word family mentioned so often. Our family has fallen apart. I wish they knew how important it is for them to be involved, but they are more content with denial.

I wonder if the study had been done in the states, the results might vary.


The drawback to me was feeling like the family fall guy. But then, I was unable to express this. It’s nobody’s fault when it can’t be explained.


I’m not sure how much resilience my family had. For my parents it became another reason to blame me for them arguing. Neither my brother or sister reacted much at the time but decades later found my sister resented the attention I got(which tended to be negative).


I’m surprised they didn’t mention how loving a family is. I think that’s probably the key factor. Although I suppose a few of the other qualities, such as family togetherness and commitment to the family, would flow naturally from a more loving environment.

But then researchers are probably too dry and too caught up in analytical thinking to pay attention to the emotional content.

Anyway, my early childhood was a lovely family atmosphere, my father and mother split when I was eight, and after that it was some years just my dad and me, some years in communes, some years in a slightly fractious family. We travelled a lot. But I rarely felt unloved. There were always affectionate parental figures around me. That probably saved me.


That is a good point. This study was done in South Africa - so it might be slightly different for people in the USA or other countries. I will watch for similar studies in Western countries / USA.


I think that “family togetherness” might be the term that researchers use (in this study) for “how loving a family is”.

It might also be a broader term that covers the general idea of families working together to solve problems and support each other in a loving way.


mental illness is never anyone’s “fault” - there are always many factors in mental illness and coping - from biological, to psychological, to social, to the types of support and treatment in the community, to education of everyone involved… its very complex. Blame and “fault” is not a helpful concept in this type of situation.

The focus has to be on just doing what is likely to produce the best results for everyone.


Yeah, fault only comes in when tempers flair.


Here is another related study:

There is fairly robust evidence that education improves carer knowledge of schizophrenia.

There is, however, little evidence that it addresses more substantive areas such as burden, coping or mental health.

Supportive family education moves beyond information giving by developing coping.

As might be expected these approaches can reduce burden. More intensive programmes such as behavioural family therapy aim to address stressful relationships which commonly occur in families of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. These programmes are particularly effective in reducing burden and can also improve mental health.

Community support such as intensive outreach is also effective in reducing burden.

Finally, there is some evidence that mutual support groups reduce burden and improve coping. (this is where these forums come into play).



This has happened with my son in relation to his sisters.
Of course all of this is acknowledged, but there STILL NEEDS to be more help for the people who are diagnosed!!!
That would help the caregiver or families cope.
All the other support should be a given-same as for any other disease. I almost feel like saying “duh”.

Funding can’t even be found for research, or for better housing, doctors, etc…how are they going to fund other support? Who paid for that "study’ to be done?

I don`t mean to be dark about this, but when is the real work going to be done?


Yes, I wonder that too. Kind of wreaks a bit of “let’s make this into a political exercise” kind of research. Not that there’s not positives in increasing resiliency in families, but when there’s not enough support (family, community, medical, financial etc etc) to make things easier on the coping family, then it’s just patronizing them to present such research. Kind of reminds me of the “let’s stop obesity so we can lower hospital bills” kind of thinking. Not that lowering obesity isn’t a good thing, but then you take into account the poor nutrition and access to good quality meals some people have (think free school lunches) and you get what I mean.


I am sure it’s different. In Australia, where I’'m from, for example, you have a public health system, so that diagnosed persons like my father do not have to continually prove their need for psychiatric care, medications etc etc. Not that it’s perfect, mind you. There are often barriers there too, such as when the government’s “pharmaceutical benefits scheme” (greatly reduced medication costs for pensioners) decides to cut certain medications from its list, leaving the recipient to have to start on a new med.

That said, however, there wasn’t the burden on my mother for paying for my father’s treatments, which would have been very difficult on her nurses’ salary. As we know, many people with sz find it difficult to maintain ongoing employment, so insurance is a big problem here in the USA.

But that’s a whole other debate. In terms of community and medical support, at least when I was growing up, it certainly wasn’t superior.