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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1995 Jun;183(6):398-403.

Mothers with severe mental illness caring for children.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655, USA.


This research identifies and describes the Massachusetts population of Department of Mental Health (DMH) case-managed women with severe mental illness who are caretakers of their minor children (N = 314), and compares their demographic and clinical characteristics and service utilization with those of a matched, randomly selected group of DMH case-managed noncaretaking women (N = 328) using the Client Tracking System database. Caretakers were significantly younger, had less formal education, and had higher rates of marriage than did noncaretakers. They are diagnosed more often with major affective disorders and less often with psychotic disorders. Caretakers demonstrate higher levels of functioning and are less likely to have a representative payee. Although caretakers function better, the groups do not differ significantly in their use of DMH services. This is the first systematic, statewide effort to specify the unique characteristics of this substantial group of women with severe mental illness who are caring for their children.

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