Psychology, Professional



Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kurt M. Gehlert

Second Advisor

Consuelo E. Cavalieri


There is a lack of literature on well siblings of children with mental illness and these siblings are often neglected by the mental health and healthcare systems (Abrams, 2009), despite being at risk for increased rates of emotional symptoms (Taylor, Fuggle, & Charman, 2001) and higher rates of psychopathology (Barnett & Hunter, 2012). Well siblings witness and experience firsthand the effects of living with a sibling who has a mental illness. Available research demonstrates a myriad of negative effects on the well sibling such as negative emotions (anger and guilt), mourning and loss, fear, concerns about future burdens, lonely lives surrounded by struggle, poorer quality of life, poor coping strategies, and impaired wellbeing as a result of the attention and differential treatment of siblings with mental illness. Frequently children with mental illness come from families that have multiple children, many of whom may be considered mentally healthy. Based on available literature regarding the impact of mental illness on the family system, the negative effects on well siblings, and the importance of increased support, a parent guide was created to include information concerning: effects of mental illness on the family and well sibling, common childhood mental health diagnoses, available resources to help support well siblings (e.g. coping strategies, external supports, and help numbers), and how to support themselves while balancing the needs of the family.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.