Is Resilience Affected By Parental Mental Illness? A Study of Tribal Young Adults

Gayathri Devadasan


Resilience is a sign of positive psychological coping amidst adversity. Limited studies have investigated resilience in young adults who have a parent with mental illness, and fewer in tribal populations. This mixed methods study was based on a sequential explanatory model. A pilot field study was conducted with tribal young adults (n=10). The main study aimed to assess resilience in tribal young adults (n=61) through the administration of the Tamil translated version of the Wagnild& Young Resilience Scale (2009). Purposive sampling from a tribal hospital’s records derived young adults from 4 vulnerable tribal communities residing in Nilgiri hills of South India. Target group comprised tribal young adults (n=31) who had a parent with depression or psychosis, and comparison group comprised tribal young adults (n=30) with parents without mental illness. A subsample of participants from each group (n=5+5) was selected for a semi-structured interview. Quantitative and qualitative data were analysed using Independent Samples t-Test and Thematic Analysis respectively. Results revealed that overall resilience was not significantly different between target and comparison groups, which accepted the null hypothesis. Resilience was not significantly different between females and males, which again accepted the null hypothesis. Despite living in severe adversity tribal young adults are resilient; parental mental illness is only one among many vulnerabilities faced by them. The prevailing extrinsic and intrinsic protective factors might explain their resilience.


resilience, risk, young adults, youth, indigenous, culture, mental health, coping

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