The relationship between mental health workers and family members
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Objective: To study the relationship between family members and mental health care workers to learn more about the support available to family members of mental health patients. Methods: Eighteen interviews were conducted with family members, seven with professionals and two with patients. Observations were performed at a long-term hospital ward and at family and client council meetings. Results: Family members perform an important carer role which greatly affects their lives. They need support from mental health professionals in order to cope. However, communication between mental health care workers and family members is problematic. Family members report a lack of information, consultation and support. Conclusion: Family members and mental health care workers frame the role of family members in the care process differently. Practice implications: Since the role of family members in the care process can be beneficial for all actors including the mental health patient it is important that mental health professionals acknowledge this and provide support to family members. Considering relatives as fellow carers (reframing their role) could be the way to do this.