TheMHS 2014 S041: Paths to Recovery – Personally Meaningful Activity

By August 28, 2014 No Comments

What makes activity personally meaningful in the journey of mental health recovery?

You can read the abstract for this presentation here.

Dr Nicola Hancock presented an overview from a study that explored the relationship between recovery and meaningfulness found in occupations and activity. The study was collaborative in nature and involved 80 adult participants. Nicola clarified that occupation was not limited to the realm of employment, but also included participation in any activity that was deemed meaningful by an individual.

The study explored what individuals found meaningful. It also considered the source and the variety of meanings that different occupations and activities offered. Were some activities more meaningful and did that differ along the recovery journey of individuals?

Following the study, seven themes of meaningfulness were evident:

  • Social connection
  • Skills / personal development
  • Value by others
  • Time use
  • Interpersonal / sense of self
  • Fun / what makes you happy
  • Financial gains

Of particular note from these themes were the social aspects, which rated as highly important. The top three came from the engagement with others (for example activities of social connectedness or caring for and with others).

The study also examined the differences in activities according to the level of recovery. Utilising a recovery assessment scale, the study found that people who rated themselves as being at an early stage of their recovery selected largely solitary occupations/activities. In contrast, people who were further along on their recovery journey selected activities that were more social in nature.

Based on the results of the research, Nicola advocated encouraging consumers to engage in occupations/activities that enable a sense of belonging, connectedness and reciprocity. Further, Dr Hancock questioned whether the balance between individualism and the sense of belonging needs further challenging and development.