Experiences of people living with mental illness in Switzerland - a qualitative inquiry

Authors: Wolfensberger, P., Thomas, S., Hahn, S. and van Teijlingen, E.

Conference: Horatio European Congress "Safe Settings"

Dates: 10-12 May 2018

Journal: Programme and abstract book

Pages: 63

Publisher: FPS, Faroese Psychiatric Nurses

Place of Publication: Torshavn, Faroe Islands


Recovery refers to the lived experiences of people living with mental illness and to their adaptation process to life and illness (Slade, 2009). This process is deeply personal and unique for everyone as it includes the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life (Anthony, 1993). For professionals, various models of care have been developed (Mahler et al., 2014, Barker & Buchanan-Barker, 2005) and advice has been given on how to promote recovery in clinical practice (Trenoweth, 2017). This is all very useful, however, how does it relate to the experiences of people living with mental illness? Aim of study The research project aims to explore and evaluate the personal experiences of people living with mental illness in Switzerland using a lifeworld approach (Galvin & Todres, 2013). The findings will help to create a unique understanding of the adaptation process to mental illness from a patients perspective. What are the issues most relevant to these people and how do they relate to the personal recovery process? Methodology A constructivist and reflective approach to Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014) has been chosen to analyse the ten open interviews with participants from various backgrounds and with different mental illnesses. The methodology appreciates that the researcher himself is subject and person within the context of the social-scientific discovery (Breuer, 2010). Results The analytical and interpretive process has not yet been finished. However, the current results show a variety of topics, that are relevant and meaningful for the people living with mental illness. They cover areas such as on how symptoms are experienced and dealt with or what role family, friends or health professionals play in the adaptation process to illness. Overall consistent seems the search for meaning or the making sense of what is or was happening. However, the answers to that are as varied and diverse as the lifeworld of each of the participants. Discussion & Conclusion The results are still partial. However, there are already insights that encourage us as health professionals to reflect on our own practice and care. We tend to think of ourselves as extremely important in the lives of people living with mental illness, which might not be that true. Creating safe spaces often simply means being human ourselves and seeing the human instead of the patient.

Source: Manual