“I screamed for help”: A single case study of one sister’s experiences with formal psychiatric care when her brother became mentally ill


Studies have shown that the quality of the relationship between siblings has great significance for the mentally ill sibling’s overall quality of life. Sibling relationships may be particularly important because few adults with severe mental illness have children. As parents grow older, adult children are expected to support their sibling with mental illness when their parents are no longer able to do so. The sibling relationship has the potential to be one of the most significant relationships for adults with schizophrenia. The aim of this paper is to present a case study of a sister’s experiences and needs in her contact with psychiatric care. This single case study was designed and the informant was recruited because of her value in maximizing what we can learn about being a sibling to a person with mental illness. Data were collected through four indepth, semistructured, repeated interviews during a two-year period, and were interpreted and analyzed through content analysis. Three major topics were discussed: 1) Anna’s brother’s time with formal psychiatric care; 2) Anna’s feelings and emotions; and 3) Anna’s view of her contact with psychiatric care. The findings indicated a sibling’s need for attention, support, and understanding from the formal caregivers. Participation in our study was one of the first opportunities she had to talk about her relationship with formal psychiatric care. An open dialogue may help siblings to manage their situations.

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Sjöblom, L. , Hellzèn, O. and Lilja, L. (2013) “I screamed for help”: A single case study of one sister’s experiences with formal psychiatric care when her brother became mentally ill. Health, 5, 417-425. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.53056.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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