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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Psychiatry 1/2018

Understanding the ups and downs of living well: the voices of people experiencing early mental health recovery

BMC Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2018
Nicola Hancock, Jennifer Smith-Merry, Glenda Jessup, Sarah Wayland, Allison Kokany



The aim of this study was to better understand early-stage mental health recovery experiences of people living with severe and persistent mental illness and complex needs.


Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 13 people engaged in an Australian program specifically designed for people facing complex barriers to their recovery. Interview data were analysed thematically using constant comparative methods.


Participants described engaging with seven interconnecting aspects of early recovery: (1) engaging with the challenge of recovery; (2) struggling for a secure and stable footing; (3) grieving for what was and what could have been; (4) seeking and finding hope; (5) navigating complex relationships; (6) connecting with formal and informal support, and finally, (7) juggling a complexity of health issues.


This study illuminated the complexity of earlier-stage recovery which was characterised both by challenging personal circumstances and a hope for the future. It illustrated that even at an early point in their recovery journey, and amidst these challenging circumstances, people still actively engage with support, draw on inner strengths, source resources and find accomplishments. Stability and security was foundational to the ability of participants to draw on their own strengths and move forward. Stability came when material needs, including housing, were addressed, and an individual was able to connect with a supportive network of workers, carers, friends and family.
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