Coping with Severe Mental Illness: Families Speak Out

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This book describes the overwhelming problems families face in dealing with their relatives who suffer from psychiatric disorders. The majority of the text consists of direct anonymous quotations from a questionnaire mailed to families of hospitalized patients as well as results from interviews done in the course of the author's employment as a clinical social worker in a state hospital. There is an examination of the period when the illness first appears, and the difficulties of finding appropriate treatment and handling the patient's resistance to care are addressed in detail. It gives insight into the problems of daily living -- handling money, interpersonal relationships, marriage and work. It also examines the more unique aspects of psychiatric disorders, such as suicide, aggressive behavior, and frequent substance abuse.


"Martha Mermier comprehensively explores the many facets of the mentally ill within the context of their support systems. She captures the frustrations, obstacles and problems faced by client and family alike. . . . Families, mental health practitioners, and any individuals who act as caretakers of the mentally ill will find her book to be a significant resource. The will gain valuable information, greater understanding and better insight into their own experiences in working with and helping the mentally ill." - Gonzalo Mesa, M.D.

". . . comprehensive in dealing with family needs -- the need for information about mental illness, treatment options, the problems of daily living, crisis management, working with professionals, planning for the future. The book is clearly organized and makes excellent use of interview data. It will help professionals understand family needs. It is likely to be helpful to families, too; they will certainly find it interesting." - Harriet Baldwin (former Chair of the Literature Committee of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)

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