People with mental illness suffer from stigma in addition to the illness itself: their families also suffer from the stigma of having a family member with a mental illness. The aim of the present study was to explore the lived experiences of the family stigma among mothers of mentally ill children in South Korea. The work was qualitative in nature: we used the phenomenological method of Colaizzi. Mothers with an adult child enrolled as mentally ill patients in the Mental Health Centre of K Province in South Korea were eligible for inclusion. FINDINGS: Six themes emerged: these were being ashamed, feeling of being ignored, isolating oneself from social relationships, becoming a mentally sick person, living like a guilty person, and becoming a part of the socially weak. The study contributes to our understanding of stigma experienced by family members in a socio-cultural context and will aid in the development of culturally appropriate strategies for the destigmatization of families of mentally ill persons.
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