Psychological status of Hispanic and non -Hispanic mothers of mentally retarded and mentally ill children

Luis R Torres-Hostos, Fordham University


This study provided a cross-sectional, multivariate description of variables influencing the mental health of mothers of dually diagnosed (mentally retarded and mentally ill) children. Twenty-nine mothers of children with mental retardation and mental illness participated in this study. Fifteen were African-American and 13 Hispanic; one identified herself as both. Mothers ranged in age from 24 to 80 and averaged 47 years of age. The average chronological age of the children was 15.59 years old. Sixty-two percent of the children were male (n = 18) and 38% were female (n = 11). The average verbal, performance and full scale IQ's of the children were 59.94, 63.74, and 59.68, respectively. Participants completed a Demographic Data Form and four scales measuring situation-specific distress levels (Brief Symptom Inventory), opinions and attitudes about mental illness (Opinions About Mental Illness Scale), levels of social support (Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors), and level of acculturation to American society (Short Acculturation Scale). Data on the children was collected from clinic records, including Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale scores, IQ scores, psychiatric and medical diagnoses, and medication. Hispanic mothers obtained a mean score suggesting a moderate degree of acculturation to mainstream American culture. However, they clearly preferred their own culture with regard to language and ethnic loyalty, media preferences, and ethnic social relationships. Scores on the BSI were identical to a comparison group of non-psychiatric adults, with the exception of the Paranoid Ideation Symptom Dimension score, which was statistically but not clinically significant. Scores on the Inventory of Socially Supported Behaviors suggested the mothers received slightly higher than average levels of support during the preceding month. Participant scores on the Opinions About Mental Illness Scale ranged from a mean of 12.10 on the Interpersonal Etiology Subscale to a mean of 45.21 on the Unsophisticated Benevolence Subscale. Data analyses suggest a significant positive correlation between the mothers' Global Severity Index of the BSI and the childrens' Full Scale IQ. In addition the GSI was also found to be positively related to scores on the Interpersonal Etiology subscale of the OMI. Possible explanations and implications for servicing this high-need population are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Mental health|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Torres-Hostos, Luis R, "Psychological status of Hispanic and non -Hispanic mothers of mentally retarded and mentally ill children" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3169397.