Same diagnosis, different lives . A qualitative study of adults with severe mental illness, in treatment and education


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Taylor & Francis

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This study focuses on how adults diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illnesses experience their lives and relationships and their own engagement in these relations in two different environmental conditions. Participants include 14 patients in psychiatric treatment in Norway and 15 students at schools for adults with mental illnesses in Denmark. All participants were diagnosed with severe mental disorders persisting for a minimum of two years and with pronounced impact on daily living. Data were collected through qualitative interviews on two occasions 6–8 months apart for most participants. The findings and interpretations showed that the two groups of informants described their lives quite differently. Patients described a focus on receiving treatment for their disease, few stable and mutual relations, and a generally low quality of life, whereas students described a focus on social relations, interests and personal growth. Students also described a higher quality of life, little loneliness and greater satisfaction with life. This suggests that the main problem for many patients struggling with persistent and severe mental illness might not be the illness itself, but a lack of environmental conditions supporting personal development


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