The Impact of Schizophrenia as a Mental Health Problem on Adults and Their Family

This section explores the impact of schizophrenia as a mental health complication on adults and their families, taking into consideration the case of John’s mother and her family.  Schizophrenia is a persistent and severe mental health disorder affecting about 1% of the global population (Vigo, Thornicroft and Atun, 2016, p 171). The disorder is characterized by the alteration of feelings, experiences, and thoughts, and even weakening one’s ability to function effectively in such areas as interpersonal relation, work, education, and self-care. The schizophrenia disorder poses momentous challenges for both patients and families (Insel, 2010).  Family plays a significant role during the onset of the disease when assistance is first needed. Besides, families provide continued support and long-term care for individuals experiencing schizophrenia, as most of the patients return to live with their relatives, spouses, children, or parents (Caqueo-Urízar, Rus-Calafell, Craig, Irarrazaval, Urzúa, Boyer, and Williams, 2017, p 2). The caregiver’s responsibility is often challenging and may substantially affect the carer’s mental health. Study shows that about a third of family caregivers reported a significant level of perceived burden and challenges coping with the patient’s illness (Caqueo-Urízar et al. 2017, p3), just like in John and the mother’s case. For instance, John falls under the category of about 50,000 children in the U.K. who cares for parents or close relatives with mental health illness, including schizophrenia disorder. However, John’s focus in school has reduced. John also feels stigmatised by the mother’s mental health condition because he cannot even bring friends home, leaving him isolated. John’s condition explains what many people caring for mentally ill family members experience in their everyday life.

The role theory asserts that having a family member with schizophrenia disrupts the family’s customary dynamics. Every family member feels affected in some way. The caring impacts denote the effects of providing care on the family as a whole regarding social, individual, and economic changes. Study shows the caregiver’s physical and mental health are often significantly affected. For example, family members caring for patients with schizophrenia often report adverse health status compared to none-caregivers or those caring for patients with different disorders such as epilepsy (Caqueo-Urízar et al., 2017, p 4).  

For instance, McCann, Lubman, and Clark argue that the responsibility impacts the psychiatric patients’ families as caregivers on different levels, including even lowering the quality of life, normal functioning, and the aptitude to provide care. Therefore, the quality of life is defined by the caregivers’ wellbeing and overall health comparative to various dimensions of their lives (McCann, Lubman, and Clark, 2012, p 227). The most cited factor influencing caregivers’ psychosocial burden is the symptoms of the disorder. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as reduced executive functioning and working memory, can make the caregiver feel overburdened, decreasing their quality of life (Caqueo-Urízar et al. 2017, p 4), eminent with the case of John.

The caregivers’ low quality of life sometimes manifests as anxiety and depressive disorders, physical illness, and vitality loss. For instance, feeling isolated and stigmatised and losing focus in school, as for John’s case. Such symptoms can be elicited by the caregiver’s relentless concern, such as handling the patient’s behaviour, social and work relations, alongside the anxieties concerning the patient’s future. Financial constraint due to the patient’s inability to work is also a source of stress. The time burden required to care for the patients also repeatedly distract the caregivers, hindering their full-time concentration at work or in school (Caqueo-Urízar et al. 2017, p 3). The factors collectively impact the caregivers’ levels of mental distress and can affect their general life experience.