Conceptualising wellbeing for young people living with mental illness (commentary)

Anne Honey, Francesca Coniglio, Nicola Hancock, Tim McDougall, Jane Callaghan

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Background/Aims: Assisting clients to achieve wellbeing, even in the presence of ongoing mental illness, should be a primary goal of mental health services. However, little is known about what wellbeing means for young people living with mental illness. The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which young Australians living with mental illness conceptualise their wellbeing. Methods: Five focus groups were conducted with young people (n=20; age range: 16-25 years) living with mental illness. Results were analysed qualitatively using constant comparative analysis. Results: Analysis of the data indicated that participants were describing two different but complementary types of concepts. We conceptualised these two types of concepts as 'building blocks' and 'foundations' of wellbeing, respectively. Five building blocks were identified, which together constituted wellbeing for participants: i) sense of self; ii) relationships; iii) sense of the future; iv) feelings and experiences; v) agency. These building blocks were supported or undermined by seven foundations: i) activities; ii) having things; iii) mental illness; iv) the past; v) coping strategies; vi) environmental supports and barriers; vii) personal characteristics. Conclusions: The findings support the use of a recovery paradigm for young people with mental illness. The framework presented can be used to assist young people to consider different aspects that make up their wellbeing and plan ways to address these by attending to multiple foundational factors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2015


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