Dr Laura Hayes from Melbourne University firstly introduced the concept of hope, which is an expectation or desire of positive events in the future. She further described hope as a continuum incorporating a range of qualitatively different aspects: from hopelessness (loss of positive expectations), to low hope (some sense of positive future exists), and to high hope (clear goals and means to achieve them).
The relationship between hope and recovery was also explored. Laura said hope is the first step on the road to recovery for people living with serious mental illness. Recovery can occur regardless of the level of symptoms. Current evidence also shows that symptoms (especially depression, but also psychosis) can be associated with lower hope, however she added that hope can be seen as a key indicator of resilience.
Based the above background knowledge, Laura listed her research aims
- to understand levels of hopes in consumers and carers
- to assess associations between symptoms, demographics factors and hope in consumers
- to assess the factors influence hope in consumers and carers, and to investigate the relationship between consumers and carers.
She did a systematic review on hope and found that the hope level was much lower in consumer groups with mental health issues compared to other groups, and hope level is negatively associated with the severity level of symptoms. Similar patterns were found among carers.
Based on her cross-sectional survey findings, Laura argued that the lack of hope in consumers with severe and enduring mental illnesses may lead to symptoms outweighing any positive expectancies for consumers. The independence of hope and carer burden may indicate that hope is an indicator of resilience among carers. In addition, Laura's data showed no relationship between hope level of carers and consumers.