Social integration for people with mental health problems. User and neighbourhood experiences
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Modern community mental health care considers social integration vital for improving mental health. However, efforts to reach this goal have not been as successful as anticipated. The study wants to achieve a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of social integration of people with mental health problems in the community, and develop the healthcare professionals’ insight into this phenomenon by means of co-operative inquiry. The data was interviews with neighbours of group homes for people with mental health problems, and focus groups interviews with users. The neighbours reported frightening behaviours as well as complications in their contact with people who had mental health problems. The reaction of the neighbourhood was exclusion. The user perspective revealed that, when meeting people, the participants experienced shame and fear of exclusion due to lack of acceptance and loss of autonomy. Integrity proved a necessary quality for the possibility to be treated as an equal. Those working in community mental health care must ensure that people suffering from mental health problems experience a sense of belonging in the community.
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