Having apprehension and disorientation about what is happening. It

Having a family member with a mental
disorder causes significant changes in family dynamics and routines. The daily
living with someone with mental health problems alters completely the everyday
life of the whole family. These alterations destabilize family structure and
functioning, requiring adaptation and reorganization around the needs of the
individual who needs care. For instance, when the first signs of illness begin
to appear, it is natural for the family to feel apprehension and disorientation
about what is happening. It is also common for people to ask themselves if it
is a phase, as well as different perspectives, with some considering that there
are reasons for concern and others that devalue the mental problem. All these concerns,
associated with the lack of information about this subject, make it difficult
to identify the problem and access to skilled care.


Therefore, when the problem is identified, strong
emotional reactions are the most common way to respond. Feelings of guilt,
anger, and fear are frequent and have direct implications for the well-being and
relationship of everybody. Effectively, each person’s understanding of the
problem may translate into different attitudes to it, in conflicts or
detachment among family members. Additionally, when multiple people are
involved, it may be difficult to reconcile care and attention, creating
imbalances in responding to the needs of the different family members. Likewise,
the relationship with the extended family may also change, as everyone will
have an opinion on the causes and appropriate response to the problem, which
may result in both support and stress for caregivers. The increased demands on
care, coupled with the lack of understanding of those who relate to the family,
can result in the progressive isolation of the family and a feeling of burden.

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The burden of family can happen when
dealing with problems and difficulties encountered in the daily living with the
ill person, also causing negative feelings regarding the whole situation.
Consequently, the distress experienced by the family, faced with the constant
moments of tension and restrictions in their social lives, can provoke feelings
of guilt, anger, helplessness, sadness, loneliness and shame. For instance, these
experiences of instability, insecurity, conflicts in family relationships and
negative feelings, demonstrate the need for these families to be also
accompanied by mental health services. Considering that, this allows the
services to develop interventions pondering the difficulties of the family in a
personalized and contextualized way, since it is essential that the services
understand and recognize the importance of the role played by the family in patient


is important to note that when we refer to mental health problems we may be
talking about problems triggered by predictable transitions or significant
events of life, which, if it is the case, the problems are short-lived.
However, there are other mental problems, with a more complex development, that
will pose life-long challenges.