Mother knows best

The attitudes family members hold toward mentally ill relatives can significantly impact on recovery, according to a study that followed 129 mothers and their adult children with schizophrenia over 18 months. 

Mentally ill patients with mothers who viewed them in more stigmatised terms – e.g. seeing them as incompetent and unpredictable – exhibited greater levels of initial symptoms, lower self-confidence and lower quality of life. When mothers held these negative views, their children with mental illness were more likely to see themselves in similar terms. 

Moreover, when they took on those stigmatising views of themselves, their symptoms increased and levels of self-confidence and quality of life lowered. 

Conversely, those who did better in terms of symptoms and social wellbeing, and had higher levels of personal control, were perceived by their mothers as more competent, capable and healthy than those doing less well.