Helping families of patients with a mental illness.
BACKGROUND: Families with a mentally ill member face a number of difficulties and issues. OBJECTIVE: This paper follows on from an earlier paper which examined the impact of mental illness on family members. Here the author explores some of the ethical and procedural difficulties in dealing with families and offers simple suggestions to general practitioners to help patients and families. DISCUSSION: Family members often approach GPs for help when a relative develops a mental illness. Generally family members will seek information and help, not only to deal with their own distress, but to help in dealing with the patient's actions and distress, and intervention with others treating the family member.