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Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría

Print version ISSN 0034-7450


AGUASACO MENDEZ, Joaquín; ALBORNOZ-SALAS, Olga  and  PEREZ-OLMOS, Isabel. Perception of Maternal Mental Illness by the Child. rev.colomb.psiquiatr. [online]. 2010, vol.39, n.1, pp.110-133. ISSN 0034-7450.

Introduction: To have a parent with a mental illness is considered a chronic adversity and a risk factor with diverse outcomes. Research on the experiences of living day to day with a parent with mental illness is extremely rare. Objective: To explore how children understand the mental illness of their mothers and aspects that are related with their comprehension. Method: An interpretative qualitative model was used (Grounded Theory) to analyze data from 13 semi-structured interviews conducted among children between the ages of 8 and 16 years living with their mothers who have diagnoses of schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Results: We developed a theoretical model regarding the factors that are related to the experiences and understanding of having and living with a mentally-ill mother. The model is composed of four concepts: (1) Characteristics of the disease, (2) information about mental illness, (3) explanations of mental illness, and (4) consequences. Conclusions: This study showed the main factors that help the child explain the mental illness. It also indicated that the family is not ready or open to talk with the child about the mental illness, and how the child feels that the mental health network is not a source of information or support

Keywords : Child; mental disorders; mothers; qualitative research; comprehension.

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