A Global Perspective of Caring for the Mentally Ill: Empowering Individuals Who Live with Schizophrenia

Friday, 26 July 2013: 8:50 AM

Judith M. Jarosinski, PhD, RN, CNE
Department of Nursing, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to develop an understanding of language and behaviors that can be both empowering and disempowering.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to develop an awareness of caring for the mentally ill that involves integrating their lives within the community.

Purpose: Despite improved treatment, significant global health disparities exist for those living with schizophrenia. The onset of symptoms, such as halluciantions and delusions,  generally predicts worsening psychotic symptomatology. Clients continue to experience repeated relapses and symptom reoccurrence, and increased numbers of clients comprise the homeless population. The purpose of this study was to understand this experience for those living with mental illness, as they live in their communities. 

Methods: A qualitative, Heideggerian approach guided data collection and analysis following Diekleman, Allen & Tanner’s (1989) method. Twelve individuals with schizophrenia described their experience of the onset of symptomatolgy. Implicit/explicit meanings were extracted.  Hermeneutic stories were developed by the team.

Results: An overarching pattern, “A life disrupted: Still lived,” described surviving the experience of schizophrenia and persevering on one’s own terms. While symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions,  revealed the loss of realistic appraisal, living with this illness was analogous to living with loss.  Participants recalled the experience of mental illness as giving them something positive in how they cared and related to others. Participants were overpowered by the “business of getting better”, and the language of nursing, a language of empowerment, was overwhelming.

Conclusion:   Incorporating a different language of caring for individuals living with mental illness underscores creative strategies currently used multinationallly.