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Faculty of Education and Social Work. " M others a cquisition of a m ental i llness: a qualitative analysis of the narratives of mothers"(M.A.M.I.). Social Work and Social Develpment Conference Sweden 2012. DSW Candidate 2007- 2012. Kristen Anne Burriel. MAMI Research Project.

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faculty of education and social work

Faculty of Education and Social Work

"Mothers acquisition of a mental illness: a qualitative analysis of the narratives of mothers"(M.A.M.I.).

Social Work and Social Develpment Conference

Sweden 2012

DSW Candidate 2007- 2012

Kristen Anne Burriel

mami research project
MAMI Research Project

Aim and Background

  • As a Senior Social Worker in the mental health services for several years I choose my area of doctoral research focus as “Mothers and their experiences of Acquiring a Mental Illness(MAMI): a narrative analysis”(2007-current).
  • Social determinants of mental health including adversity (WHO, 2003 and 2009).
  • Established a Mothers group in 1997 in the Illawarra region which became a POPPY pilot model in 2003 and now multiple groups operate across Australia.
  • Aim of the DSW research is to understand the narratives of mothers to improve the services available and inform policy development
mami research project1
MAMI Research Project


Mothers-This is a term which has been the subject of considerable interrogation in Feminist literature. In this presentation it is used in its simple form as a woman who has given birth to children.

Supported Playgroups-Mental Health (Parents Opportunity to Participate in Play with their Young)and other specialised focus (http://www.fahcsia.gov.au).

Mental Illness-legal(MHA, 1990), medical(DSMIV) and social perspectives(WHO,2002).

some key ontological perspectives to mami
Some Key Ontological Perspectives to MAMI:

Medical Understandings

  • Historical context-European development of “deranged mind” in the Middle Ages.
  • The practice of placing people in custodial care in asylums in 19th century in the United Kingdom.
  • Positivist and scientific world view became dominant.
  • Role of Psychiatry and diagnosis was developed in 1890.
  • Second World War in USA and the DSM 1 was developed-current DSM IV which is reductionist.
key ontological perspectives continue d
Key Ontological Perspectives continued......

Social Perspectives

1.Social causationist-

  • Asks what causes mental distress to develop?
  • “Cause and effect” relationship.
  • Understand what life events might contribute to emotional and psychological issues.
  • Exploring the links between psychosocial factors and the impact on physical and mental health(WHO,2003,p.p12-13),(Pilgrim and Rogers, 2003).
social perspectives continued
Social Perspectives continued.............

2. Social constructionist

  • Not fixed or positivist stand.
  • Deconstructing social meanings such as the practice of institutionalisation.
  • Interested with the positioning of the ‘self’(Fawcett, 2009).
  • Makes links between relationships of power, language, history, culture, and collective contexts.
  • Issue of stigma and discrimination against mothers with a mental illness such as judgement about competence as a parent , fear of removal of their children and lack of access to crucial services (SANE report,2011).
mami research project method
MAMI Research Project Method:

Developmental Qualitative Approach ( Mason, 2006)

  • Qualitative Narrative Approach; Post Modern/Social perspectives(Pilgrim and Rogers,1999),(Burr,2005),(Fawcett and Karban,2005).
  • A small sample of 4-6 mothers who attend a supported playgroup for mothers with a diagnosis of mental illness drawn from 3 different geographical areas.
  • 6 individual narratives collected for 1 hour each with a series of prompting questions which were audio-taped and notes taken.
  • Narrative Data Analysis process being currently conducted and thesis is being written.
mami narrative analysis
MAMI Narrative Analysis
  • The researcher has transcribed and analysed the 6 narratives of the mothers using principles of thematic organisation to guide the process(Bryman,2004.p.401) and is now writing the thesis.
  • The different lenses of medical and social understandings are applied to each of the transcriptions and then the content has been summarised deconstructing the information in the narratives.
  • Some of the key issues in the narratives have highlighted the resilience, courage, determination, meaning of a diagnosis, complexity of experiences of the mothers and the difficulties in accessing other supports such as POPPY and services without stigma and consistent information (SANE,2011).
some other findings outcomes
Some other Findings/ Outcomes
  • A meeting of the POPPY facilitators at University of Sydney in 2010.
  • An electronic web site established for POPPY by one of the hosting agencies and additional POPPY playgroups have been developed.
  • Invitations to present on the Playgroups at different forums and presenting at this conference in 2012.
  • Written 2 short papers on POPPY and now on the MAMI research Project.
  • The mothers who participated felt valued and empowered.
  • Invitations to be on the Board of Directors of local Women’s refuge and Women’s Health centre and to assist with future policy development and ongoing research initiatives
summary and conclusion
Summary and Conclusion
  • Ongoing narrative analysis and writing of the DSW thesis.
  • Involvement in improvement in direct service and policy reforms as a result of the information obtained from the narratives.
  • Continued development of POPPY and other programs to assist

mothers and their children.

  • Increased information to provide the community about the difficulties of accessing services (SANE,2011) and the stigma that is still affecting these mothers.
  • A balance of a medical approach with a broader impact of the social perspectives embedded in service designs and policy delivery.
  • ‘Restock’ of the importance of human rights and social inclusion and for Social Work as a key profession for expertise in this field.

American Psychiatric Association (1994).“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders.” (DSM IV) Washington D.C.

Bryman, A, (2004). “Social Research Methods”. 2nd edition, Oxford, New York.

Fawcett, B & Karban, (2005) “Contemporary Mental Health: Theory, Practice”, UK, USA & Canada.

Foucault, M. (1965) “Madness and Civilization: A history of Insanity in the Age of Reason”, published 2nd edition, (1973), New York, Vintage books.

Rosenthal, Gabrielle (1993), “Reconstruction of Life Stories”, in, “The Narrative Study of Lives”. Vol.1. by Ruthellen Josselson, Amiah Lieblich (editors).Sage Publications, Newbury Park, London, New Delhi. 1993. CR.4.

Sane Australia, (2011) “Mentally ill mothers not getting enough help”, at: www.sane.org and www.abc.net.au/am/content/.

World Health Organisation, (2003)“ Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts,” 2nd edition, Denmark.

questions and discus sion
Questions and Discussion

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