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17-06-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 9/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2018

Parental Mental Illness and the Transition to College: Coping, Psychological Adjustment, and Parent–Child Relationships

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2018
Auteurs:
Joseph M. Mitchell, Kristen M. Abraham

Abstract

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.

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