Impact of Mental Illness
Mental illness has the potential to impact every faucet of an individual’s life, as well as the lives of those close to them, including relationships (family and friends), vocational, financial, and behavioral tendencies. These effects differ between each individual due to the treatment approaches taken, the variety of diagnoses, and the intenseness of symptoms. At the age of seventeen Joe felt clueless when his usual good quality school and family life began to change due to a string of stressful experiences. Although his diagnosis was not made immediately, the symptoms of schizophrenia affected his daily life. He became delusional, began to withdrawal from friends, his senses were distorted and overall he was uncomfortable around people.
Two categories were created to illustrate the impact on family members caring for an individual with a mental disorder. These are identified as ‘objective burden’ and ‘subjective burden’. An objective burden refers to such things as disruptions to family relationships, limitations in leisure and vocational activities, and financial difficulties. (Dore et al., 2001; Magliano et al., 1998). High rates in separation and divorce among relationships where a spouse has a mental illness is an example of an objective burden (Dore et al., 2001). Following three semesters in University, Joe’s symptoms of delusion came back leading him to temporarily drop out of school. This interruption in his educational experience also constitutes as an example of objective burden. Subjective burden describes the personal feelings and reactions experienced by family members (Dore et al., 2001; Magliano et al., 1998). These feelings may consist of being distressed, angry, grief, loss from past to present situations, embarrassed, unhappy, and guilty if an individual feels they were the cause of the illness (Dore et al., 2001). Dianne’s father was diagnosed with schizophrenia twice and never followed through with treatment. His symptoms caused him to believe that his wife was ‘out to get him’ and he confided this situation to Dianne, who he later claimed was not his daughter due to an extramarital affair on her mothers behalf. During the time of his illness he abandoned his wife and soon after stopped communicating with Dianne as well. The turmoil experienced by the family sent Dianne’s mother into a depressed state, she is now on medication, and affected Dianne’s life in great measures. Although now she feels she is a better person because of her experience she was greatly influenced by the initial change in her fathers attitudes.
Mental illness does not only have an effect on relationships, occupation, recreation and finances, but also the overall routine of an individual’s daily life. An example of this may be the individual’s reaction, or lack thereof, to environmental stimuli, which may imply a distorted viewpoint (Barlow, D.H. et al., 1995). When Joe first started experiencing symptoms he became...