How do “mental health professionals” who are also or have been “mental health service users” construct their identities?

Holttum, S., Richards, Jenna and Springham, N. (2016) How do “mental health professionals” who are also or have been “mental health service users” construct their identities? SAGE Open, 2016. pp. 1-14. ISSN 2158-2440.

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“Mental health professionals” are increasingly speaking out about their own experiences of using mental health services. However, research suggests that they face identity-related dilemmas because social conventions tend to assume two distinct identities: “professionals” as relatively socially powerful and “patients” as comparatively powerless. The aim of this study was, through discourse analysis, to explore how “mental health professionals” with “mental health service user” experience “construct” their identity. Discourse analysis views identity as fluid and continually renegotiated in social contexts. Ten participants were interviewed, and the interviews were transcribed and analyzed. Participants constructed their identity variously, including as separate “professional” and “patient” identities, switching between these in relation to different contexts, suggesting “unintegrated” identities. Participants also demonstrated personally valued “integrated” identities in relation to some professional contexts. Implications for clinical practice and future research are explored. Positive identity discourses that integrate experiences as a service user and a professional included “personhood” and insider “activist,” drawing in turn on discourses of “personal recovery,” “lived experience,” and “use of self.” These integrated identities can potentially be foregrounded to contribute to realizing the social value of service user and other lived experience in mental health workers, and highlighting positive and hopeful perspectives on mental distress.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mental health; identity; professional; discourse
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health services. Mental illness prevention
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Sue Holttum
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2016 14:43
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2016 15:13

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00