Schizophrenia is one of the paradigmatic mental health problems of psychiatry. It is a clinical syndrome of variables but profoundly disruptive psychopathology, which involves thought perceptions, emotions, movements, and behaviors. The expression of these schizophrenia symptoms varies across patients and over time, but the cumulative effect of the illness is always severe and usually long-lasting.
The number of people with schizophrenia in the world is increasing, particularly in the developing countries. Approximately 0.5 out of 1000 people in the world suffer from schizophrenia (Mental Health Research Association, 2006). In India, the point prevalence of schizophrenia was reported to be approximately 0.5-1% of the population.
Caring for a family member with Mental Health Problems can be sometimes burdensome. A family caregiver is the most important person who cares for the person with schizophrenia.
Approximately 60 to 85% of the disabled or impaired people are cared by the family caregivers. They usually help them in performing their daily activities such as bathing, eating, cooking, dressing; taking drugs, and checking up. However, when care is provided for a longer time, particularly for people with schizophrenia, the family caregiver can experience burden that leads to negative consequences.
The burden of family caregivers leads to negative consequences not only for themselves but also for patients, other family members, and healthcare system. Caregiver’s burden negatively affects other family member’s physical, emotional, and economic status. Furthermore, their negative quality of life can cause poor caring, mistreatment or behave violently towards the patients which can cause the patients’ relapse. It can also cause family conflicts and financial problems in individual and health care system.
However, these impacts might be different among caregivers as the level of burden is related to various factors. This can include family members may experience difficulty in handling disruptive behavior and fluctuating emotions that cannot be controlled, lack of time for personal enjoyment and social engagement, difficulty in handling the lack of motivation commonly found in family members, and financial difficulties.
Caregivers are at twice the risk of elevations in depressive symptoms and increased physical health problems.
Protective factors that can mitigate caregiver distress and Mental health problems
- Personality: Mature coping strategies, high self-efficacy and sense of mastery
- “Good” relationship with the patient
- Social network: supportive family members and friends; membership in support groups.
- Education: knowledge of schizophrenia and its management
- Availability of professional support
- Good functional health status
- Coping style: Problem solving and acceptance
Overall, on my clinical perspectives, I conclude by saying some interventions such as schizophrenia treatment can enable caregivers of people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems to enhance their knowledge, coping skills and management of care-recipient behaviors which in turn improves mood, overall psychological health, decreases caregiver burden and improves quality of life for both caregiver and care recipient.