Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


This study sought to gain further understanding of the perceptions of parental mental illness on adult children. Previous research suggests that parental mental illness may create generational trauma that impacts children even into adulthood. This study used a qualitative, exploratory approach, including in-depth interviews with eight individuals who grew up with a parent or caretaker with a mental illness. The participants ranged from ages 18 to 45 and came from various cultural and socioeconomic statuses. The interviews followed a semi-structured interview guide that the researchers designed. The findings of this study suggest that most of the participants used their experience as an opportunity to grow, trying to be better than their parents despite their own mental health struggles. It also shows that there is no guarantee that a parent’s mental illness to manifest itself in their children. Furthermore, age appears to affect how experiences are presented, with older participants giving more depth and detail. Birth order shows significance as well, as younger siblings may not see behaviors as abnormal while older siblings do.

Included in

Social Work Commons