Lived Experiences of Young People who Live with Mental Healthcare Users in Limpopo, South Africa
Keywords:family, mental healthcare users, mental illness, lived experiences, young people
Mental illness is more than just the diagnosis to an individual – it also has an impact on the social functioning of the family at large. When a parent or relative has a mental illness, all other family members are affected, even the children. The purpose of the study was to provide insight into the lived experiences of young people who live with mental healthcare users and the way in which their daily coping can be maximised. A qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological research was undertaken to explore and describe the lived experiences of young people who live with mental healthcare users in the Limpopo province, South Africa. Audiotaped, unstructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 young people who grew up and lived with a family member who is a mental healthcare user in their homes, until data saturation was reached. A content analysis was used to derive themes from the collected qualitative data. Four major themes emerged as features reflective of the young people’s daily living with mental healthcare user, namely psychological effects, added responsibilities, effects on school performances, and support systems. This study recommends that support networks for young people be established through multidisciplinary team involvement and collaboration and the provision of burden-sharing or a relief system during times of need. With the availability of healthy coping mechanisms and support systems, the daily living situations and coping of young people could be maximised, thereby improving their quality of life while living with their family members with mental illness.