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‘Maybe I Shouldn’t Talk’: The Role of Power in the Telling of Mental Health Recovery Stories

Llewellyn-Beardsley, Joy; Rennick-Egglestone, Stefan; Pollock, Kristian; Ali, Yasmin; Watson, Emma; Franklin, Donna; Yeo, Caroline; Ng, Fiona; McGranahan, Rose; Slade, Mike; Edgley, Alison


Research Assistant on The Narrative Experiences Online (Neon) Study

Emma Watson

Donna Franklin

Caroline Yeo

Rose McGranahan

Professor of Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion


Mental health ‘recovery narratives’ are increasingly used within teaching, learning and practice environments. The mainstreaming of their use has been critiqued by scholars and activists as a co-option of lived experience for organisational purposes. But how people report their experiences of telling their stories has not been investigated at scale. We present accounts from 71 people with lived experience of multiple inequalities of telling their stories in formal and informal settings. A reflexive thematic analysis was conducted within a critical constructivist approach. Our overarching finding was that questions of power were central to all accounts. Four themes were identified: (1) Challenging the status quo; (2) Risky consequences; (3) Producing ‘acceptable’ stories; (4) Untellable stories. We discuss how the concept of narrative power foregrounds inequalities in settings within which recovery stories are invited and co-constructed, and conclude that power imbalances complicate the seemingly benign act of telling stories of lived experience.


Llewellyn-Beardsley, J., Rennick-Egglestone, S., Pollock, K., Ali, Y., Watson, E., Franklin, D., …Edgley, A. (2022). ‘Maybe I Shouldn’t Talk’: The Role of Power in the Telling of Mental Health Recovery Stories. Qualitative Health Research, 32(12), 1828-1842.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 18, 2022
Publication Date 2022-10
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 18, 2022
Journal Qualitative Health Research
Print ISSN 1049-7323
Electronic ISSN 1552-7557
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 12
Pages 1828-1842
Keywords Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
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