Reconnecting with life: reconnecting with self, others and time. A grounded theory study of recovering from mental health problems in an Irish context
Kartalova-O'Doherty, Yulia (2010) Reconnecting with life: reconnecting with self, others and time. A grounded theory study of recovering from mental health problems in an Irish context. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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It has been recommended that Irish mental health services adopt a recovery perspective (Department of Health and Children 2006). However there is no unified theory of recovery capable of guiding services (Craig 2008). The aim of this study was to develop a coherent theory of recovering from mental health problems. This was the first grounded theory study of recovery in Ireland.
The study methodology was guided by critical realism and classical grounded theory. The study was based on open-ended individual interviews with 32 volunteers who had experienced mental health problems more than once over a period of two years and considered themselves in improvement. Most participants (n=23) were recruited via mental health services, and nine via peer support or community groups.
The core category of recovery was labelled as ‘re-connecting with life‘. It had three interactive subcategories: 1) reconnecting with self through accepting the self as a worthy human being capable of positive change; 2) reconnecting self with others through empathic, accepting, and validating connection; 3) reconnecting self with others and time, through establishing coherence of one’s past and actively shaping and executing one’s present and future. Synchronising self and others in time was reported as an important goal and tool of reconnecting with life, and was achieved through talking, understanding, empathy and giving back.
This study shows that through non-judgemental and accepting connection with peers or service-providers persons can relearn to understand and value themselves and others, come to terms with the past, and plan and execute their present and future. This study provides evidence that through a dynamic connection with self, others and time one can regain meaningfulness of one’s life, which was found to be crucial for physical and mental health. Implications for mental health policy, practice, education and research are provided.
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