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Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2013 Sep;36(3):215-8. doi: 10.1037/prj0000009. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Healthy living? By whose standards? Engaging mental health service recipients to understand their perspectives of, and barriers to, healthy living.

Author information

1
Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

It is well recognized that mental health service recipients experience high rates of cardiometabolic disorders, have poorer diets, and exercise less than the general population. This study sought to explore the meaning of a healthy lifestyle for this population and the barriers they experience to healthy living.

METHOD:

Focus groups were conducted with 23 individuals who experience serious mental health issues. The meaning of a healthy lifestyle and the barriers participants experience to living healthily were explored.

RESULTS:

Participants perceived a healthy lifestyle in broader terms than professional guidelines for exercise and diet. A broad framework including friendship, affordable safe housing, employment, spiritual, and emotional good health, as well as healthy eating and exercise, is described. Barriers identified by participants were poor mental and physical health and stigma (structural, social, and self). An unexpected result was the group problem solving that occurred during the focus groups.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

Health care professionals need to understand mental health service recipients' perspectives of a "healthy lifestyle." An understanding of barriers within this context is required, as only then will we be able to empathize and assist as health care professionals. This study also shows that realistic, innovative, and pragmatic solutions occur when mental health service recipients are empowered.

PMID:
23876179
DOI:
10.1037/prj0000009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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