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ERIC Number: ED551034
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 191
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3030-2306-4
Reflections of Adults on Their School Experiences Growing up with a Severely Mentally Ill Parent
Leahy, Marie A.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Widener University
More than five million children in the United States have a parent suffering from a severe mental illness and these children have specific experiences and needs, particularly in school. Children of mentally ill parents are at greater risk of being neglected and of developing psychological, social, emotional, and behavioral problems. They often live in shame and secrecy due to the stigma associated with mental illness along with a widespread misunderstanding of the causes and effects of mental illness. Unfortunately, there is a reluctance of family members to ask for help and consequently, these children, who are vulnerable and in need of support, rarely benefit from mental health services and have an increased risk of exhibiting problems at school. In addition, it is common for children of mentally ill parents to assume inappropriate levels of responsibility at home, sometimes even becoming the caretaker of the mentally ill parent. Surprisingly, it is only recently that the impact of parental mental illness on children is beginning to be studied, and the majority of that research is being undertaken abroad and not in the United States. The purpose of this study was to explore the reflections of adults on their school experiences growing up with a severely mentally ill parent in the hope of shedding some light on what teachers and school personnel can do to support the specific needs of these children. The format of the study was qualitative in nature and consisted of biographical interviews of adult children of a severely mentally ill parent. Utilizing biological interviews, although not generalizable, enabled the researcher to uncover important personal insights and concepts about the particular school experience of children of severely mentally ill parents in a way prohibitive by the gathering of statistical data. Since children of mentally ill parents are considered a hidden population due to the shame and secrecy long associated with mental illness, snowball sampling will be utilized to access this hidden population. By implementing the techniques of "chain referral", my personal experience with growing up with a mentally ill parent will enable me entry into conversations that involve a tremendous amount of trust and where standard sampling would be prohibitive. Despite the limitations of snowball sampling, the information that can be gleaned from the adult children of mentally ill parents involved in this study overcomes the lack of generalizability. The biographical interviews will begin in an open-ended and unstructured format so that the participants will be free to tell their stories in a respectful, non-threatening manner. Reliability and validity will be taken into account in a variety of aspects to insure multiple ways of establishing truth are implemented, which is essential in qualitative research. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A