Background: The hospitalization of a child on an inpatient psychiatric unit is
traumatic for the entire family, but few services address the needs of their siblings and
Objective: This pilot study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and potential benefits of
implementing psycho-educational and support groups for caregivers and siblings of children
and adolescents admitted to psychiatric units. The primary aim of this intervention was to
increase sibling resiliency and reduce trauma experienced by families.
Method: A total of 145 siblings and 196 caregivers participated in the intervention. Siblings
participated in a structured support group that enabled them to share their stories and learn
coping skills. Caregivers were provided with a psycho-education curriculum in a group
facilitated by a parent mentor. At the end of each session, participants completed surveys
which included questions on demographics, satisfaction, knowledge learned, and anticipated
changes in behavior as the result of participating in the intervention.
Results: Feasibility was demonstrated through successful recruitment, high rates of survey
completion, and overall participant satisfaction. Caregivers reported gaining useful parenting
strategies to better support the siblings, an increased understanding of the impact of mental
illness on siblings, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and improved access to resources.
Siblings reported feeling relieved and better understood, learning new coping skills, and
finding validation and support through sharing their experiences in a group setting.
Conclusion: This study supports the feasibility and importance of providing sibling and
caregiver support and psycho-education to enhance resiliency and reduce trauma among
family members of psychiatrically hospitalized children and adolescents.