Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2012 Jul 5;6(1):16. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-6-16.

Challenges of caring for children with mental disorders: Experiences and views of caregivers attending the outpatient clinic at Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam - Tanzania.

Author information

  • 1School of Nursing, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P,O Box 65004, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



It is estimated that world-wide up to 20‚ÄČ% of children suffer from debilitating mental illness. Mental disorders that pose a significant concern include learning disorders, hyperkinetic disorders (ADHD), depression, psychosis, pervasive development disorders, attachment disorders, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, substance abuse and eating disorders. Living with such children can be very stressful for caregivers in the family. Therefore, determination of challenges of living with these children is important in the process of finding ways to help or support caregivers to provide proper care for their children. The purpose of this study was to explore the psychological and emotional, social, and economic challenges that parents or guardians experience when caring for mentally ill children and what they do to address or deal with them.


A qualitative study design using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions was applied. The study was conducted at the psychiatric unit of Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania. Two focus groups discussions (FGDs) and 8 in-depth interviews were conducted with caregivers who attended the psychiatric clinic with their children. Data analysis was done using content analysis.


The study revealed psychological and emotional, social, and economic challenges caregivers endure while living with mentally ill children. Psychological and emotional challenges included being stressed by caring tasks and having worries about the present and future life of their children. They had feelings of sadness, and inner pain or bitterness due to the disturbing behaviour of the children. They also experienced some communication problems with their children due to their inability to talk. Social challenges were inadequate social services for their children, stigma, burden of caring task, lack of public awareness of mental illness, lack of social support, and problems with social life. The economic challenges were poverty, child care interfering with various income generating activities in the family, and extra expenses associated with the child's illness.


Caregivers of mentally ill children experience various psychological and emotional, social, and economic challenges. Professional assistance, public awareness of mental illnesses in children, social support by the government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are important in addressing these challenges.

Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk