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Supportive and Problematic Interactions Between Sexual Minorities with Serious Mental Illness and Non-intimate Partner Relatives

Abstract

Family relationships often play a critical role in the functional outcomes and wellbeing of persons with serious mental illness (SMI). However, research has not examined the interactions sexual minorities with SMI have with family members. This exploratory study aimed to examine whether supportive and/or problematic interactions between persons with serious mental illness and non-intimate partner relatives are associated with persons with SMI being sexual minorities. Between 2015 and 2017, 212 adults with SMI residing across the U.S. completed an online survey. Participants provided information regarding their interactions with a non-intimate partner relative in the past 6 months. Chi squared and Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney tests were computed. The sexual orientation of participants was not significantly associated with supportive (co-residence, in-person contact, financial and other assistance, and happiness derived from the relationship) or problematic (emotional over-involvement, limit-setting, psychological abuse, and violence) interactions with non-intimate partner relatives. Practitioners are advised to attempt to include family members and address family relationships in rehabilitation services, regardless of the sexual orientation of persons with SMI.

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Notes

  1. Prior research indicates that acceptance of sexual minority family members varies by relationship type, with sexual minorities perceiving parents as less accepting than other family members (see [3]). As such, it is possible that our findings may falsely conflate the interactions participants have with RR who are parents and other non-intimate partner relatives. To test this possibility, we performed identical analyses presented in Table 2, but only examining participants whose RR were their parents. Comparing these 34 sexual minority participants to 72 heterosexual participants, we found no statistically significant differences in any of the supportive or problematic interactions listed in Table 2 (results available upon request to the corresponding author). Thus, we are confident that the results presented in our main analyses (Table 2) do not mask important variation between participants with RR who are their parents versus other non-intimate partner relatives.

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Labrum, T., Petros, R., Jacobs, L.A. et al. Supportive and Problematic Interactions Between Sexual Minorities with Serious Mental Illness and Non-intimate Partner Relatives. J. Psychosoc. Rehabil. Ment. Health 8, 19–27 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40737-020-00193-6

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Keywords

  • Family
  • Caregiving
  • Violence
  • Conflict
  • Lesbian
  • Psychiatric disorder
  • Contribution