Individuals’ experiences of hope in mental health recovery: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

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Murphy, Johanna Carmel
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University College Cork
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Background: Mental health services both nationally and internationally have embraced the philosophy and practice of mental health recovery. Service users have consistently identified hope as the catalyst of their mental health recovery, while research has confirmed hope as one of five micro-processes of recovery. However, no study has specifically explored the experience and meaning of hope in mental health recovery. Aim: To explore how individuals describe and make sense of their experience of hope in the context of their recovery from mental health issues. Method: A qualitative Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was used. A purposeful sample of 11 individuals was accessed via 2 national email networks. Data were generated through in-depth semi-structured interviews which were audiotaped, transcribed and finally analysed using a 6 step framework developed for IPA. Findings: Analysis generated three superordinate themes which were: “Without it we would wither up and die” - Hope as intrinsic to life; “I will be ok” - Having a sense of possibility and “Making it happen” - Moving forward. Discussion: Further interrogative analysis identified key new findings related to the temporal contextuality within which the experience of hope is located with three key foci emerging strongly. These were: the paradoxical experience of having no hope when attempts were made to end life; the experience of being prescribed psychotropic medication; and the experience of being admitted involuntarily to hospital. Conclusion and Implications: The experience of hope in mental health recovery is highly contextual and dynamic. While the experience of having “no hope” was seen to crystalise the criticality of hope to life, mental health practitioners and educators need to cultivate a more accessible dialogue of “hope” that harnesses its therapeutic potential. The experience both of being prescribed psychotropic medication and that of being admitted involuntarily to mental health services were found to have a significant, predominantly negative, impact on the experience of hope. Thus there is a critical need to access individual interpretations of hope as part of a person-centred approach to practice underpinned by the cultivation of therapeutic relationships.
Hope , Mental health recovery , Interpretative phenomenological analysis
Murphy, J. C. 2019. Individuals’ experiences of hope in mental health recovery: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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