An occupational perspective of the recovery journey in mental health

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Background: The philosophy of occupational therapy and that of recovery are markedly similar; however, there is limited research linking occupation to recovery in mental health.

Aim: This study aimed to explore the relationship between recovery and occupation in consumers with mental health problems.

Method: A qualitative method in the form of narratives was chosen in exploring the uniquely subjective experiences of mental health, occupation and recovery. Five members of a mental health support group (GROW) were engaged in semi-structured interviews, whereby individual narratives were analysed through comparative methods to identify categories and themes.

Findings: Five categories emerged: (1) The recovery map, (2) GROW has just given me the platform, (3) You have to become active, (4) The great barriers and (5) Where am I now ... I couldn't bear it if I was any better. The participants' experiences of recovery highlighted the necessity for occupational engagement in a supported environment. The benefits of occupation included feelings of social cohesion, meaning, purpose, normalisation, routine, competence, productivity, skill acquisition, routine and pleasure. These factors enabled the participants to re-establish self-concepts and subsequently promoted mental health.

Implications: The findings may have implications for occupational therapy practice, whereby occupational therapy could facilitate a leadership role in recovery-orientated mental health services.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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