‘Canaries in the mine’. Parents of adult children with schizophrenia: An integrative review of the literature

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 2017, 26 (1), pp. 5 - 19
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc. The purpose of this integrative review was to evaluate the current state of knowledge of parents who have adult children diagnosed with schizophrenia and their relationship with mental health professionals. Findings indicated that parents (primarily mothers) believed they intuitively knew when their adult children were becoming unwell and that they doggedly pursued connections with mental health care providers. Five themes were evident in the literature: trusting your instincts, feeling dismissed and devalued, making connections and making concessions, living with distress and sorrow, and becoming your own health-care provider. The implications of the findings on mental health nursing practice indicate that professional family relationships were not ideal, and that parents wanted to improve these relationships. Parents wanted health-care professionals to respond to their requests for help for both their children and for themselves, and wanted to be able to help the mental health team to help their adult children.
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