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.