As more and more mentally-ill people are looked after in the community the responsibility for looking after them tends to fall on their relatives. A team of researchers from Karlstad University in Sweden looked into the 'burden of care' of 226 relatives from the Norwegian National Association for Families of Mentally-Ill Persons. They found that the relatives were 'burdened' and also reported poor health, with women experiencing a greater burden than men. For relatives who were single, divorced or widowed the burden of care was greater and health was poorer - and financial troubles and frequent phone calls with the mentally-ill relative made matters worse. The researchers also looked into the relatives' sense of coherence - the degree to which they found life to be comprehensible, manageable and meaningful - and found that this was lower in people who felt more of a sense of burden and had poorer health.
Weimand, Bente M. ... [et al] - Burden and Health in Relatives of Persons with Severe Mental Illness: A Norwegian Cross- Sectional Study Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31:804–815, 2010