Sense-making, Socialization, and Stigma: Exploring Narratives Told in Families About Mental Illness

Elizabeth Flood-Grady, Jody Koenig Kellas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Guided by Communicated Narrative Sense-making Theory (CNSM), the current study investigated mental illness (MI) narratives told within families and the lessons younger members learned from these stories. Individual, semi-structured interviews with young adults (N = 24) revealed that family members, mainly parents, share stories about the MIs of individual family members and narratives reflected themes of struggle and caution. Participants reported learning important lessons from these MI narratives (i.e., MI awareness, importance of understanding MI). Findings illuminate the ways family narratives about MI teach younger members lessons and expectations for managing MI despite sometimes reinforcing MI stigma. Limitations, future directions, and implications for narrative interventions are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-617
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 12 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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