When caring for a patient who has just been diagnosed with a mental health issue, there are both benefits and barriers that may occur when incorporating the family into caring for this patient. One of the benefits is that family members may experience positive feelings when they are included in the treatment plan. For instance, some studies have shown that family members experience gratification, love, or pride as a result of their involvement (Kaakinen et al., 2015). Because of their involvement in the care plan, some family members also report feeling more secure and hopeful about the future (Kaakinen et al., 2015).
Another benefit of incorporating the family into the care plan is that it will ensure that an appropriate and effective crisis plan is in place (Kaakinen et al., 2015). Crises often arise at times when it is not possible to contact a nurse. If the family is involved in the care plan, they will have the resources they need to manage the crisis, which can lower the risk of negative outcomes for the patient.

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Nevertheless, there are also barriers that may arise when incorporating the family into caring for the patient. For instance, the family member may not be comfortable with the new role that they are expected to play in the patient’s life (Kaakinen et al., 2015). In this way, the existing family dynamics can become a barrier to effective participation of the family in the patient’s care plan.

Finally, a challenge that may be encountered is a family member’s difficulty coping with the added stress of being involved in the mental health treatment. For family members, caring for a loved one with a mental health condition can be emotionally taxing (Kuhn & Laird, 2014). If family members do not practice self-care, they may become overwhelmed and provide ineffective support for their family member. For this reason, many family support programs are being created to help family members of mental health patients (Kuhn & Laird, 2014), so it may be possible to overcome this barrier.

  • Kaakinen, J.R., Coehlo, D.P, Steele, R., Tabacco, A., & Hanson, S.M.H. (2015). Family health care nursing: Theory, practice, and research. (5th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
  • Kuhn, E.S. & Laird, R.D. (2014). Family support programs and adolescent mental health: Review of evidence. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 5, 127-42.