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Siblings of individuals with severe mental illness

Jacqueline Sin (Research Fellow, based at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, King's College London, London, UK)
Debbie Spain (Clinical Research Fellow, based at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK)
Cheryl Jordan (Lecturer, based at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, King's College London, London, UK)
Christopher A. Griffiths (Senior Evaluation Officer, based at the Evaluation Team, Rethink Mental Illness, London, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




The importance of providing information, support and interventions for family members and carers of people who have severe mental illness (SMI) has garnered increasing attention in recent years. However, research to date has primarily focused on parents; the purpose of this paper is to review the literature investigating the experiences of siblings of individuals who have SMI.


A literature review was undertaken to summarise the empirical data regarding the experiences and needs of siblings, and their potential contribution to supporting their siblings’ recovery journey.


Sibling views, experiences and needs have thus far been little explored. Yet siblings often make significant contributions to their brother's/sister's care and social and emotional well-being, and their support can positively shape the recovery trajectory. This review finds that siblings require information and support for two reasons: to maintain their own well-being, and to be able to best support their sibling with SMI and the family as a whole. Several implications for clinical practice, workforce development and research are outlined.


This paper provides a timely review of the literature to enhance awareness of the needs and experiences of siblings for health and social care professionals. Examples of good practice are proposed for statutory and voluntary service settings.



Jacqueline Sin is funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF – 2011 – 04 – 129). Debbie Spain is funded by a NIHR (NIHR) Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (CDRF – 2012 – 03 – 059). The review presents independent research funded by the NIHR. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Jacqueline Sin and Debbie Spain are joint first authors.


Sin, J., Spain, D., Jordan, C. and A. Griffiths, C. (2014), "Siblings of individuals with severe mental illness", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 215-221.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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