Helping Mental Health Professionals Understand the Impact of Mental Illness on the Family

When a close member of a family develops a serious mental illness, the entire family is impacted. Compassionate mental health professionals understand this but, as empathetic as they are, it is often difficult to appreciate the full impact.
By: Bridgeross
Flannery Family Photo
Flannery Family Photo
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* Serious Mental Illness

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March 1, 2016 - PRLog -- One very good resource to aid in that understanding is the book about the Flannery's of White Plains, New York. The parents and siblings were deeply impacted when 16 year old twin, Paul (one of 10 children), suddenly developed schizophrenia at the age of 16.

Paul was a good looking young man, popular with his peers, a straight A student and a star football player in junior high when his grades began to suffer. Then, one night, he suddenly ran down the stairs to dinner with his long blond hair cut off and bleeding from his scalp. "They're killing all the Indians", he screamed and ran out the back and took off in the VW across the lawn.

Shortly after, the police arrived to say that Paul had been picked up by them and admitted to the local psychiatric ward. And thus began the Flannery family adventure into the world of schizophrenia. We see the impact on the parents and on the siblings who carried on when the parents passed away.

And we see how society treated (or failed to adequatley treat) Paul moving him from the safety of a hospital into the group home and independent living that he was not capable of coping with, through to his diagnosis of lung cancer, and then premature death.

All is depicted in Katherine Flannery Dering's book, Shot in the Head A Sister's Memoir, A Brother's Struggle available in both print and various e-book formats. So far, the book has received 23 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. One review states that:

"the book is an excellent study of the impact of mental illness on a family and the difficulties society has meeting the needs of those who suffer from schizophrenia. The story is tragic but displays a roller coaster of emotions that help the average person to better understand Paul and other schizophrenics as persons in every way."

This book should be read by all who treat those with serious mental illness and by students planning a career in the mental health field.

Shot in the Head A Sister's Memoir, A Brother's Struggle, ISBN  978-1927637210, distributed by Ingram, $19.95 or less. For more information visit

Marvin Ross
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