Family relationships and mental illness: Impacts and service responses

Family relationships and mental illness: Impacts and service responses

Elly Robinson, Bryan Rodgers and Peter Butterworth

AFRC Issues No. 4 — June 2008

It is now well recognised that mental illness is a significant issue in Australia, and the impact of such problems is increasingly recognised. Approximately one in five people will experience a mental health disorder every year, with the most common disorders being anxiety and depression. The effects on families can be significant, and the quality of support and service delivery to families and affected family members is crucial.

This paper will give a brief overview of mental health problems, including types and prevalence, causes of mental illness, and family-related risk and protective factors. The impact of mental health problems on family relationships and family dynamics will be explored, including the role of carers and relationship issues resulting from, or contributing to, the presence of a mental health problem.

Approaches to helping families deal with mental health problems in the context of family relationship services will be suggested.


Views expressed in Clearinghouse publications are those of individual authors and may not necessarily reflect Government, Institute or Clearinghouse policy.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Elly Robinson is Manager of the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

Bryan Rodgers is Professor of Family Health and Wellbeing at the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute of The Australian National University and holder of an NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship.

Peter Butterworth is a Fellow at the Centre for Mental Health Research of the Australian National University and holder of an NHMRC Public Health (Australia) Fellowship.

The authors would like to thank W. Kim Halford and Reima Pryor for their suggestions and feedback on this paper.

Publication details

AFRC Issues
No. 4
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 2008.
19 pp.

Publication meta

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