Mental health

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


It would be nearly impossible to understand any mental health problem without some appreciation of the family processes that predated or aggravated the disorder. Scientists and clinicians are increasingly recognizing the role of family interaction patterns in the cause, course, and treatment of mental health problems. Toward that end, a great deal of sophisticated and ground breaking research has been conducted on family communication patterns and processes that are associated with mental health problems. The origins of this research and theorizing are far older than the field of communication itself and show just how consequential family communication can be to the mental health of family members. This research also shows how important family processes can be distorted and corrupted by the mental health problems of those in the family system. Perhaps due to the nature of the populations studied in this body of research, most studies on family communication and mental health are conducted by people whose formal employment may be outside of the communication field, but whose methods, constructs, and scholarship fall squarely within family communication research. Research and theory on family interactions and mental health make up part of the larger interpersonal paradigm in mental health (see Horowitz & Strack, 2010; Segrin, 2001 for reviews). According to this perspective, both the maintenance and disruption of mental health are thought to be strongly influenced by the nature of one's interpersonal relationships. Naturally, family relationships occupy a prominent position in the interpersonal landscape of most individuals. As the research reviewed in this chapter will show, there is a strong connection between family interaction processes and family members’ mental health. In the service of brevity, the mental health problems featured in this chapter are only described in rudimentary form. Interested readers can find more detailed descriptions of these problems in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn, text revision) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Also, this chapter excludes analysis of substance use disorders as that is the topic of Chapter 28, and child abuse and neglect as major risk factors for a multitude of mental health problems as that is the topic of Chapter 29 of this volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Family Communication
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781136946370
ISBN (Print)9780415881982
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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