Mothers with mental illness: II. Family relationships and the context of parenting

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Research on Mental Health Services; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



*Adaptation, Psychological; Adult; Case Management; Child; Child Custody; Family; Female; Focus Groups; Humans; Intergenerational Relations; Massachusetts; Mental Disorders; Middle Aged; Mothers; Parenting; Spouses


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: This study explores the experiences of mothers with mental illness regarding their family relationships.

METHODS: Six focus groups of mothers with mental illness and five focus groups of case managers met to discuss problems facing mothers with mental illness and to recommend solutions. Focus groups were audiotaped, and transcripts were coded and analyzed qualitatively to describe ways in which husbands and partners, grandparents, and other family members contribute to the context of parenting for mothers with mental illness.

RESULTS: Mothers with mental illness and case managers described a range of relationships and attitudes of family members and provided examples of the ways in which family members contribute both positively and negatively to parenting.

CONCLUSIONS: Although family members may seem to be natural supports for mothers with mental illness, their involvement in the context of parenting may not be entirely positive. The contributions of family members to the context of parenting for mothers with mental illness must be considered by treatment providers if unintentional negative outcomes are to be avoided.

DOI of Published Version



Psychiatr Serv. 1998 May;49(5):643-9.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID