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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: HOW PEOPLE TALK ABOUT COPING.... - Carers UK Forum

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: HOW PEOPLE TALK ABOUT COPING....

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Here is a summary of the findings of my dissertation project entitled 'HOW PEOPLE TALK ABOUT COPING WHEN A FAMILY MEMBER HAS A CHRONIC MENTAL ILLNESS'. Thank you for all of you who took the time to participate. If you wish to receive a more in-depth copy of my results please email me at lauraj.richards@hotmail.co.uk Image

Acknowledgements
"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory." (Ghandi)
It is a pleasure to give special thanks to all those people who made this research project possible. The support, guidance and kindness of my supervisor Clare Wilson gave me the drive and the motivation to complete this project with passion and with pride.
I am also very grateful to all the charities, websites and mental health causes that promoted and supported this study because without their help this research would not have got off the ground. To everyone who took the time to participate in this research I give you my sincere thanks; I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to gain such an insight into your lives.
Finally, I would like to thank those family and friends closest to me, and teachers past and present for believing in me and giving me so much support and inspiring me to pursue my aspirations.


Abstract
Previous research that has focused on the impact of mental illness on the family unit has failed to consider the coping mechanisms that relatives use to cope with the illness experience. This study considered the health benefits of writing about emotional experiences, and investigated the coping styles and expression of emotions through language and metaphors used by relatives of individuals with chronic mental illness.
A four part repeated measures study was devised to assess coping mechanisms, use of language, metaphor preference, and emotions experienced by participants when writing about emotional experiences over a period of four consecutive days. Forty six female and six male participants (49 White British, 1 U.S citizen, 2 Canadian citizens) with the majority aged between 18-20 years of age were obtained by means of an opportunity sample. The only participant specification for this research was that each participant was related to an individual with a chronic mental health problem. Participants were recruited from a range of mental health and carers’ online forums, along with the University of Portsmouth ‘Electronic Participant Pool’ system. This study received ethical clearance from the University of Portsmouth Ethics committee in July 2011, as well as ethical clearance from the ReThink Research panel in November 2011.
The results revealed that ratings of emotions improved over the duration of the writing exercise. It has also found that proactive and task orientated coping style were identified as beneficial, and that problems with mental health professionals seemed to inhibit a good coping experience. Furthermore, optimistic metaphors received higher ratings than those representing a pessimistic outlook on the experience of coping with a mentally ill family member. It can be concluded that positivity, optimism and seeking support may positively influence an individuals’ coping experience, however, there is still scope for future research in this area.
Thanks for doing us the courtesy of letting us see the result - not everyone does!
Yes, and now I'll tempt fate by putting them into the language of a typical student:

We bribed some students to take part in the study by offering them unlimited coffee. The ones who didnt like mental health professionals or were a bit freaked out were having a heavy time, man, and the ones who had a positive vibe were , like, surfing on a sugar high.
(NB, this is just a bit of fun, but it would also be nice if other people tried to translate this piece into common speak)
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The results revealed that ratings of emotions improved over the duration of the writing exercise. It has also found that proactive and task orientated coping style were identified as beneficial, and that problems with mental health professionals seemed to inhibit a good coping experience. Furthermore, optimistic metaphors received higher ratings than those representing a pessimistic outlook on the experience of coping with a mentally ill family member. It can be concluded that positivity, optimism and seeking support may positively influence an individuals’ coping experience, however, there is still scope for future research in this area.