Experiences of recovery in mental illness
Introduction In recent years the concept of ‘recovery’ has become increasingly prevalent in both government and health service policy, and in the terminology used by mental health service users. The current study examines the experiences of recovery as described by service users living in a rural / semi-rural population. This is in contrast to the majority of similar studies, which have tended to focus on urban centres where population characteristics, and the services available to service users, differ in many ways. As such, the aim of the current study was to add to the growing theory regarding what constitutes recovery from the viewpoint of service users living in a relatively remote area of the UK. Methodology Eight adult participants, all of whom defined themselves as either recovering or having recovered from significant mental health problems, were interviewed about their experiences using a semi-structured interview. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed for emerging themes using a social constructionist version of Grounded Theory. Data Analysis & Discussion Analysis revealed a consistent set of themes emerging from the participant interviews. These are encapsulated in the concept of reflection and integration, and the dynamic nature of these phenomena over time. Participants made reference to the nature of their problems and the impact they had on relationships, the treatment they had sought and received, and the effects of their experiences on their notions of themselves as individuals. Conclusions The findings of the current study are discussed in the light of existing relevant literature and in relation to current policy initiatives. Comparisons to the emerging theory regarding recovery are drawn, and distinctions made between the existing theory and the findings which appear to be particularly pertinent to the sample population. Suggestions for clinical applications are made. Limitations of the study are also addressed, and areas for potential further research are outlined.