So, from the perspective of a person facing mental health problems, does it help to have access to other people’s recovery stories?
A new systematic review conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with specialists from other institutions, suggests that the answer may be “yes” — though not for everyone.
As always, the caveat is there because we are all different, and don’t all respond to the same thing, and because some narratives with a lot of details about self-harming can actually be more traumatic to read about. However, that aside, what we generally see is that knowing that others who have gone through what we are going through, and come out the other side of it, is helpful.
This is true especially of people who, for various reasons, may be isolated, and not know of anyone in their life who has a similar story:
“We wondered whether stories of recovery might help people who find it difficult to access other forms of mental health treatment,” says Rennick-Egglestone, “such as people living in rural locations or experiencing social anxiety.”
And, he goes on, “we found that they can, as long as possible negative impacts are managed carefully.”
So, what does the research suggest for those of us interested in helping people dealing with mental health issues?
The study authors warn that “[c]are is needed to ensure that recovery narrative interventions are used to expand the available choices within the narrating of recovery instead of curtailing them.”
In their conclusion, they also call for the diversification of the recovery narratives currently available to people seeking mental health support:
To me, when I read that last sentence, all I can take away is that we simply need more people, of all types, telling their stories of recovery. It’s in seeing that normal, everyday, people, in situations similar to ours, have healed and moved beyond it, that this information is useful to those of us who are struggling, and we need to increasingly get the word out that there are people all around us who have done so, while also being a bit careful about how we share the details.
So, what’s your story, and are you sharing it so that others may know they are not alone?