‘Chugging along, plugging in and out of it’: Understanding a place-based approach for community-based support of mental health recovery

Caroline Claisse, Abigail C. Durrant, Dawn Branley-Bell, Elizabeth Sillence, Angela Glascott, Alisdair Cameron

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Community-based Mental Health (MH) organisations in the United Kingdom (UK) are facing challenges for sustaining in-person service delivery. Without empirical evidence that demonstrates the value of a place-based approach for MH recovery, and the types of resources needed to build nurturing spaces for peer support, community-based MH organisations will struggle to maintain their physical spaces. We present empirical insights from a case study involving interviews with 20 students accessing peer support services at the [Partnering organisation Anonymised], a community-based MH organisation located in the [name of area in England]. The interview study aims to evidence how a place-based approach can afford MH recovery. We draw from discourses on place-making and interpret our interview findings through an established framework that highlights four mechanisms through which place impacts recovery: place for doing, being, becoming and belonging. We use this framework to structure our findings and highlight key qualities of place for establishing and maintaining MH recovery. Our contribution is two-fold: we address a gap in the literature by providing empirical understandings of how place influences MH recovery, whilst extending previous research by considering the role that place plays in community-based organisations. This is timely because of the challenges faced in securing in-person service delivery post-pandemic, and a shift towards remote service provision models. We highlight key implications: (i) Accessing a physical place dedicated to MH support is vital for people who do not have anywhere else to go and are socially isolated due to their health conditions; (ii) Connecting through peer-to-peer interaction is an integral part of the recovery process, and learning from people with lived experience can inform a place-based approach that best suit their needs; and (iii) Recognising the value of place for MH support, and the resources needed for peer support delivery in the community, will help secure places that our research participants described as lifesaving.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116823
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date29 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2024

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