|Title of host publication||Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy|
|Editors||Jay Lebow, Anthony Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
A severe mental illness involves dysfunction in cognition, behavior, and/or emotion, persists overtime, and results in serious functional impairment in one or more major life activities such as interpersonal relationships or employment. In 2014,there were an estimated 9.8 million adults aged18 or older in the United States with a severe mental illness, representing 4.2 %of all US adults (Hedden et al. 2014).Historically, persons with severe mental illnesses lived in institutions, apart from their families.Today, with deinstitutionalization and advances in psychotropic medications, most individuals live in the community. Some live with family members and while others may live independently,their family often offers critical support.The term “family” might encompass parents,children, siblings, partners, and other extended family members; family might refer to one’s family of origin (the family an individual is born into)and/or family of procreation or choice. Osher and Osher (2002) extend this definition by suggesting that who is included in the “family” needs to be delineated by its members. Accordingly, “family”may not necessarily resemble a traditional nuclear family and may include close friends or neighbors.