Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science / Lifespan Resilience Research Group




This article was originally published as: Cohen, L. , Ferguson, C. A., Harms, C. A., Pooley, J. , & Tomlinson, S. (2011). Family systems and mental health issues: A resilience approach. Journal of Social Work Practice, 25(1), 109-125. Original article available here


In many cases the consumers of mental health information and support are the families of mental health sufferers. The aim of the project was to understand resilience in people who live with or support a family member with a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. Participants were 15 carers (one male, 14 female). Semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed using content analysis. Eight recurring themes emerged which indicated the challenges the carers faced and provided indications of the positive and negative personal, family and social factors that impacted on their lives. These themes were 'Getting to CLAN WA', 'Accessing help including CLAN WA', 'Impact of living with a person who has a mental illness or problematic behaviour', 'Family and cultural issues', 'Communication within the family','Coping strategies and evidence of resilience', 'Social support' and 'Notion of sacrifice'. There is still considerable work to do in supporting people who live with or support a family member in these circumstances. The findings demonstrate that individuals living with adversity can do more than just survive the process


Link to publisher version (DOI)