Behind closed doors: the stories and experiences of siblings of persons with mental illness
LE3 .A278 2019
Bachelor of Community Development
When one or more sibling in a family has a mental illness, the siblings’ relationship with each other can be impacted in various ways. While there is some quantitative research that looks at the impacts the mental illness has on well siblings, there is very little that explores their stories and experiences through qualitative research. The purpose of the study was to explore the narratives of sibling’s of persons with mental illness; start to understand the benefits and challenges that come with the well sibling experience; and to explore the ways in which well sibling’s relationships with their families are impacted by their relationship with their sibling with mental illness. The research was done through two qualitative semi-structured interviews and photo-elicitation pieces with five well siblings from Ontario and Nova Scotia between the ages of twenty and twenty-three. The study found that the participants often had challenging relationships with their siblings and experienced fear, guilt, and anger because of their experiences. Participants also expressed changes in their family dynamics and their relationships with their parents. They showed empathy, understanding, and growth, highlighting that the well siblings are dynamic and act as important supports in their families. The finding also touched on the problems with labelling siblings as well and unwell and the need for better supports for siblings.
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