How do recorded mental health recovery narratives create connection and improve hopefulness?

Fiona Ng*, Christopher Newby, Clare Robinson, Joy Llewellyn-Beardsley, Caroline Yeo, James Roe, Stefan Rennick-Egglestone, Roger Smith, Susie Booth, Sylvia Bailey, Stynke Castelein, Felicity Callard, Simone Arbour, Mike Slade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Mental health recovery narratives are an active ingredient of recovery-oriented interventions such as peer support. Recovery narratives can create connection and hope, but there is limited evidence on the predictors of impact. Aims: The aim of this study was to identify characteristics of the narrator, narrative content and participant which predict the short-term impact of recovery narratives on participants. Method: Independent studies were conducted in an experimental (n = 40) and a clinical setting (n = 13). In both studies, participants with mental health problems received recorded recovery narratives and rated impact on hopefulness and connection. Predictive characteristics were identified using multi-level modelling. Results: The experimental study found that narratives portraying a narrator as living well with mental health problems that is intermediate between no and full recovery, generated higher self-rated levels of hopefulness. Participants from ethnic minority backgrounds had lower levels of connection with narrators compared to participants from a white background, potentially due to reduced visibility of a narrator’s diversity characteristics. Conclusions: Narratives describing partial but not complete recovery and matching on ethnicity may lead to a higher impact. Having access to narratives portraying a range of narrator characteristics to maximise the possibility of a beneficial impact on connection and hopefulness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of mental health
Issue number2
Early online date5-Jan-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • connection
  • hope
  • Mental health recovery
  • narratives
  • predictors

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