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Can J Commun Ment Health. 2005 Autumn;24(2):109-26.

Youth experiences of living with mental health problems: emergence, loss, adaptation and recovery (ELAR).

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Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver.


Current understanding of youth aged 15-24 experiencing mental health problems is limited. Through a qualitative analysis of the subjective experiences of 7 male and 6 female youths, 4 core categories emerged as stages that described the participants' process of mental illness: emergence, loss, adaptation, and recovery. Results showed that youth experiencing mental health problems felt stigmatized and labelled, and experienced multiple losses of identity, family, career choices, and educational and social standing. Participants reported that having mental health problems disrupted their transition from adolescence to young adulthood; however, these data reveal how youth adapt and recover. Implications of the findings in this study will be useful in identifying youth-focused interventions that may help professionals assist youth more effectively in their recovery process.

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