Parental Mental Illness and the Transition to College: Coping, Psychological Adjustment, and Parent–Child Relationships
- 362 Downloads
Although research suggests that various familial factors and the parent–child relationship are important for the adjustment to college, less is known about how a parent with a mental illness impacts the challenges that accompany the transition to college. This mixed methods study examined differences among college students (N = 196, age range 18–30 years) with and without a parent with a mental illness with regard to general psychological adjustment, college adjustment, coping, and the parent–child relationship. Participants with a parent with a mental illness experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety when compared to emerging adults without a parent with mental illness. There was a marginally significant difference in the use of coping styles between emerging adults with and without a parent with a mental illness. Furthermore, participants with a parent with a mental illness experienced higher levels of homesickness and college negative affect compared to emerging adults without a parent with mental illness. Qualitative analyses comparing freshmen with and without a parent with a mental illness showed that freshmen with a parent with mental illness were more likely to describe familial homesickness as a problem in their transition to college. Freshmen with a father with a mental illness were less likely to describe their father as a positive influence on their college adjustment when compared to freshmen without a father with a mental illness. The findings further support the importance of investigating the influence of having a parent with a mental illness on the transition to college for research and clinical practice.
KeywordsCollege adjustment Parental mental illness Coping Psychological adjustment Parent–child relationships
We would like to thank Libby Blume for her feedback regarding study design, and Jazmin Y. Nevarez and Jace Paupert for their assistance with qualitative coding.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee at the University of Detroit Mercy and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Beavers, W. R., & Hampson, R. B. (1990). Self-report family inventory: version II. Successful families: assessment and intervention. New York, NY: Norton.Google Scholar
- Bianchi, S. M., & Spain, D. (1999). Women, work, and family in America. In C. Albers (Ed.), Sociology of families: Readings (pp. 170–182). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. 2nd ed. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- De Vaus, D. (2002). Analyzing social science data: 50 key problems in data analysis. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Dressler, W. W. (1991). Stress and adaptation in the context of culture: Depression in a southern black community.. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Erlenmeyer-Kimling, L., Adamo, U. H., Rock, D., Roberts, S. A., Bassett, A. S., Squires-Wheeler, E., Cornblatt, B. A., Endicott, J., Pape, S., & Gottesman, I. I. (1997). The New York High-Risk Project: prevalence and comorbidity of axis I disorders in offspring of schizophrenic parents at 25-year follow-up. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 1096–1102. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830240052008.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kilbourne, A. M., Morden, N. E., Austin, K., Ilgen, M., McCarthy, J. F., Dalack, G., & Blow, F. C. (2009). Excess heart-disease-related mortality in a national study of patients with mental disorders: identifying modifiable risk factors. General Hospital Psychiatry, 31, 555–563.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Maybery, D., Nicholson, J., & Reupert, A. (2015). Parental mental illness: estimating prevalence to inform policy and practice. In A. Reupert, D. Maybery, J. Nicholson, M. Göpfert & M. Seeman (Eds.), Parental psychiatric disorder: Distressed parents and their families. 3rd ed (pp. 20–28). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Maybery, D. J., Reupert, A. E., Patrick, K., Goodyear, M., & Crase, L. (2009). Prevalence of parental mental illness in Australian families. The Psychiatrist, 33(1), 22–26.Google Scholar
- Nelson, L. J., Padilla-Walker, L. M., Christensen, K. J., Evans, C. A., & Carroll, J. S. (2011). Parenting in emerging adulthood: An examination of parenting clusters and correlates. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 730–743. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9584-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Salkind, N. J. (Ed.) (2010). Encyclopedia of research design (Vol. 1). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson Education.Google Scholar