Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Advanced Search

Post-traumatic growth in mental health recovery: qualitative study of narratives

Slade, Mike; Rennick-Egglestone, Stefan; Blackie, Laura E.R.; Llewellyn-Beardsley, Joy; Franklin, Donna; Hui, Ada; Thornicroft, Graham; McGranahan, Rose; Pollock, Kristian; Priebe, Stefan; Ramsay, Amy; Roe, David; Deakin, Emilia


Mike Slade

Stefan Rennick-Egglestone

Laura E.R. Blackie

Joy Llewellyn-Beardsley

Donna Franklin

Ada Hui

Graham Thornicroft

Rose McGranahan

Kristian Pollock

Stefan Priebe

Amy Ramsay

David Roe

Emilia Deakin


Post-traumatic growth, defined as positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with challenging life circumstances, is under-researched in people with mental health problems. The aim of this study was to develop a conceptual framework for post-traumatic growth in the context of recovery for people with psychosis and other severe mental health problems.

Qualitative thematic analysis of cross-sectional semi-structured interviews about personal experiences of mental health recovery.


Participants were adults aged over 18 and: (i) living with psychosis and not using mental health services (n=21); (ii) using mental health services and from black and minority ethnic communities (n=21); (iii) underserved, operationalised as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community or complex needs or rural community (n=19); or (iv) employed in peer roles using their lived experience with others (n=16). The 77 participants comprised 42 (55%) female and 44 (57%) White British.

Components of post-traumatic growth were present in 64 (83%) of recovery narratives. Six superordinate categories were identified, consistent with a view that post-traumatic growth involves learning about oneself (Self-discovery) leading to a new sense of who one is (Sense of self) and appreciation of life (Life perspective). Observable positively-valued changes comprise a greater focus on self-management
(Wellbeing) and more importance being attached to relationships (Relationships) and spiritual or religious engagement (Spirituality). Categories are non-ordered and individuals may start from any point in this process.

Post-traumatic growth is often part of mental health recovery. Changes are compatible with research about growth following trauma, but with more emphasis on self-discovery, integration of illness-related experiences and active self-management of wellbeing. Trauma-related growth may be a preferable term for participants who identify as having experienced trauma. Trauma-informed mental health care could use the six identified categories as a basis for new approaches to supporting recovery.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 28, 2019
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Article Number e029342
APA6 Citation Slade, M., Rennick-Egglestone, S., Blackie, L. E., Llewellyn-Beardsley, J., Franklin, D., Hui, A., …Deakin, E. (2019). Post-traumatic growth in mental health recovery: qualitative study of narratives. BMJ Open, 9,
Keywords Post-traumatic growth; Mental health; Recovery
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations