Parents' Experience of Their Child's First Psychiatric Breakdown: "Welcome to Hell"

Elena Shpigner, Chaya Possick, Eli Buchbinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinicians and researchers have emphasized the importance of helping the primary caregivers of persons going through the first outbreak of psychiatric illness in order to mitigate the negative consequences of the illness on the patient and the caregivers. The aim of the current qualitative, retrospective study is to examine the experiences, challenges, and difficulties faced by Israeli parents during the outbreak of psychiatric illness in their children. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 parents who participated in a psycho-educational group in a family mental health center. Several themes regarding parents' experience of the first outbreak of their children's psychiatric illness emerge from the content analysis of the interviews-the perception of sudden onset of the illness, feelings of being mired in distress, intense pain stemming from guilt and helplessness with concomitant anger, and isolation. The themes are then discussed in light of the concept of ambiguous loss and the existential approach. The findings indicate psycho-social services in the Israeli mental health system provide only a partial response to the needs of parents during this critical period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-557
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • caregivers and mental illness
  • family and mental illness
  • outbreak of mental illness
  • parents of mentally ill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Community and Home Care


Dive into the research topics of 'Parents' Experience of Their Child's First Psychiatric Breakdown: "Welcome to Hell"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this