oa South African Family Practice - The role of in families living with mental illness in the community : original research

Volume 54, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Families living with mental illness are a vulnerable group in the community. In the African culture, it is accepted that families are embedded safely in a community. In accordance with the principles of , people with mental illness should be well supported and cared for by their families and the wider community. Traditionally, people with mental illness are institutionalised, out of sight of the family and the general population. However, the deinstitutionalisation of mental health services has changed the structure and mode of caring for people with mental illness. The family and community are now regarded as the dominant care givers and providers.

A qualitative grounded theory method was used.
This article discusses research in progress that demonstrates how families in the community experienced stigma and isolation in the community, as well as crime. There was little support from the community in assisting families to shoulder their burden of care. In this article, we reflect on the possibility that the spirit of may well assist families living with mental illness, despite the burden that communities have to shoulder when fulfilling their own family obligations.
In a community in which is the underpinning life philosophy and way of life, these values could be reinstated and revived to promote the survival and recovery of families living with mental illness in the community, and to reintroduce humanness in the community.

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