2005 Narrative Research Project

30th December 2013

narrative_reportIn 2005 SRN undertook a large scale narrative research project. This project has provided the foundation to all of our work and has influenced a number of initiatives.

The project was developed in an effort to understand more about recovery from long-term mental health problems and to contribute to a new evidence that emphasised lived experience.

In 2005, we travelled across Scotland and interviewed 64 people about the factors that helped and hindered recovery. In 2007, SRN published the findings from this project in a report entitled, ‘Recovering Mental Health in Scotland’. The research highlights several common elements which were found to be helpful for recovery. These included:

  • Developing a positive identity and view of yourself and having hope for the future
  • Having meaningful activities and purpose in your life, and having your contributions and choices in life validated and valued
  • Having supportive relationships
  • Having the right mix of treatments and support

One of the things that is clear is that this is no different from what most people want in life. The report also confirmed that people can and do recover from even the most serious and long-term mental health issues.

You can access the report, and its individual sections, along with two accompanying resources via the links below.

Recovering Mental Health in Scotland (1.33 MB) (Full report)

Recovering Mental Health in Scotland Sections:

Contents, forward, preface, acknowledgements, about SRN, and purpose and rationale (306.9 kB)
Methods and demographics (149 kB)
Executive Summary (146.23 kB)
Recovering identity (277.65 kB)
Engagement (864.1 kB)
Relationships (303.3 kB)
Treatments and supports (396.22 kB)
Pacing, turning points and reframing (204.35 kB)
Glossary, index and references (399.75 kB)

In addition to the report, we produced a companion resource – ‘Routes to Recovery’ – and a booklet of stories from the project – ‘Journeys of Recovery’.

Routes to Recovery highlights some of the things that people do to support their recovery.

Routes to Recovery (1.99 MB)

Journeys of Recovery offers a selection of stories that highlight key themes about recovery.

Journeys of Recovery (10.39 MB)

To read the stories that did not feature in Journeys of Recovery or to view the individual stories from the booklet, visit Stories and experiences.

Background to the 2005 Narrative Research Project

The majority of research around mental health problems focuses on treatments and interventions. Our aim was to contribute to a new evidence base; one which is more concerned with the lived experience of recovery and things that help people stay well.

In developing the project the aim was to create an evidence base that could influence all aspects of our work. We wanted to be able to use the research to inspire hope in others, to raise awareness of recovery and to contribute to a better understanding of the things that help and hinder on the recovery journey.

Through the months of April and May 2005 the SRN travelled to 6 venues around Scotland to interview 64 people about their personal experiences of recovery. Following this we wrote up the interviews and created anonymous recovery stories, or narratives, based on the interviews. We shared the 64 stories from the project via the website and 12 of those stories in a booklet titled ‘Journeys of Recovery‘.

We then studied the interview write-ups, identified the common themes and detailed the findings in ‘Recovering Mental Health in Scotland’ and ‘Routes to Recovery’.

In 2011 we carried out a follow-up study when we talked to some of the people that we’d originally interviewed in 2005. The results provide an informative and fascinating insight into the process of mental health recovery over time.