Experiences of Family Members of Persons With Mental Illness: A Qualitative Inquiry

  •  Maureen Nokuthula Sibiya    
  •  Vasanthrie Naidoo    
  •  Avela Mjajubana    


The shortage of skilled and experienced health workers, lack of facilities, limited psychiatric care and inaccessible mental health care services in the uMsunduzi Municipality in Northern KwaZulu-Natal are causes of concern. With limited access to health services and resources, family members have no choice, but to take care of mentally ill relatives. These underlying problems have warranted the need to explore the experiences of family members living with mentally ill relatives. A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive design was used to collect data by in-depth one-on-one interviews and findings were analyzed using Tesch’s method of data analysis. This study showed that the uMsunduzi Municipality needed assistance with resources to support family members living with their mentally ill relatives and family members’ lack of knowledge and experience emerged as a major factor that influenced the care, treatment and rehabilitation of their mentally ill relatives. Compounded by inadequate mental health facilities and infrastructure as well as  the implications of the non-implementation of the acts, policies, processes and procedures in the uMsunduzi Municipality; this study recommends the need to enhance community education of all health professionals, providing relevant training in mental illness management. A shared decision-making process is vital, so that a collaborative partnership between family members and health professionals across KZN is established. This will in turn enhance the lived experiences of family members and mentally ill patients.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.