Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica E. Toft, Ph.D., LISW


Social Work


Caring for a loved one with serious mental illness is a challenging role to be in. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to integrate the current literature which values the viewpoint of the caregiver regarding their own strength perspective of discovering what coping skills and support systems they have found to be beneficial. The studies included in the review were peer reviewed empirical, qualitative and quantitative studies, representing several countries and age groups. Inclusionary terms for this study included: “chronic mental illness” or “mental illness”, some version of the word caregiver, family, related, adapt, cope and long-term. Exclusionary terms included race and dementia. Common themes of strength found in the research included: educating the caregiver about the illness, the behaviors and prognosis, creating partnerships with the loved one and treatment team, finding acceptance of the illness and life situation, living situation effects, the importance of the caregiver caring for and finding support for themselves, finding a new life purpose and planning for the future. Future research would benefit from further evaluating disseminating educational materials, guidelines for development of support groups, training for peer mentoring and future planning into areas of the world that are more rural or limited in availability of services.

Included in

Social Work Commons