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Interface - Comunicação, Saúde, Educação

Print version ISSN 1414-3283On-line version ISSN 1807-5762


PEREIRA, Maria Alice Ornellas. Representation of mental illness by the patient's family. Interface (Botucatu) [online]. 2003, vol.7, n.12, pp.71-82. ISSN 1414-3283.

In the paradigm of patient care that the recent Brazilian psychiatric reform preconizes, the social reintegration of the patients suffering from mental illnesses is sought through open services (Centers or Nuclei of Psychosocial Support, known as CAPS or NAPS) in which an interaction with the patient's family is established, in order to foster a communication process that enables the mental health professional to understand the context of the patient's life history and, based on it, to develop educational efforts involving this group. This facilitates the patient's reintegration into the web of social relations that stigmatized him/her or from which he/she was excluded. This study investigates the social representations of the families of psychiatric patients as regards mental illness, relying on interviews and observation as data-collection tools, and was guided by the principles of qualitative research. Through concrete experiences, the people investigated developed ideas that point to relationship difficulties with the bearer of mental illness. As a result, aggression, depreciation and abandonment arise within the family, all of which give rise to a need for support from healthcare services. The results attained may be useful as input to expansion projects of the mental healthcare network.

Keywords : Mental disorder; family relations; psychiatric Nursing.

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