Community participation and recovery for mental health service users: an action research inquiry

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Abstract:

Introduction: The social inclusion of individuals with mental health problems is an issue for mental health services, for the individuals who experience stigma, discrimination and exclusion, and for society at large. To develop community-orientated services that are capable of promoting inclusion it will, therefore, be advantageous to all parties to understand what service users find most helpful.

Method: A 2-year action research project explored the recovery journeys of a group of assertive outreach service users who had progressed from being socially excluded and occupationally deprived to being participants in their local communities. The research aimed to understand how these outcomes were produced and to use this knowledge to inform local service development.

Findings: This paper focuses on eight qualitative interviews, where service users recounted their stories of community participation and inclusion. The findings show how assertive outreach practitioners harnessed occupation as a basis for building relationships between practitioners and service users, and how this became a conduit towards participation in the mainstream community.

Conclusion: Facilitating engagement in community-based occupations through creative collaboration helped participants reconnect with cherished roles, achieve long-standing goals and develop feelings of self-efficacy, belonging and wellbeing.

Keywords: COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH; RECOVERY; SOCIAL INCLUSION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4276/030802212X13470263980838

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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