• Jason Hickey

Student thesis: Phd


Background. Personal recovery in mental illness refers to a person’s ongoing journey to find meaning in their life despite the limitations caused by mental illness. This concept arose through the published narratives of mental health service users in Western countries and has gained increasing popularity over the past three decades. Many national mental health strategies and services have incorporated a recovery-based approach into service planning and delivery. However, recovery is a personal journey and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Limited investigations of personal recovery in non-Western contexts reveals the importance of factors not commonly cited in the predominant recovery literature. Further examining recovery in non-Western contexts may increase the capacity of mental health services to support recovery for diverse service user populations. The aim of the main empirical study for this thesis was undertaken to develop a theoretical understanding of mental illness self-management in Qatar. Self-management was chosen over a more specific focus on personal recovery in order to expand the potential scope of participants’ concerns and to avoid forcing Western-centric concepts of personal recovery into the study. Methods. The empirical study was conducted in Qatar between February 2016 and June 2017. Classic grounded theory was chosen to address the objectives. Recruitment occurred on inpatient psychiatric units and through word-of-mouth. In-depth, unstructured interviews were conducted in English or Arabic with service users who had a range of nationalities and psychiatric diagnoses. In total, 28 interviews were conducted with 21 service users. Constant comparison was used for analysis. Results. Participants’ main concern was reciprocity membership; they wanted to feel a sense of belonging to a group of others and they wanted there to be reciprocity in those relationships. Reciprocity membership becomes balanced when an individual is satisfied with their contribution to the group, the acknowledgement from other group members, the expectations of the group, and their alignment with the values and interests of the group. This satisfaction is appraised by a sub-process called valuing. If reciprocity membership is appraised as being unsatisfactory or unbalanced, two sub-processes, managing relationships and positioning, are sometimes used to achieve or restore balance. Conclusion. Knowledge created through work undertaken for this PhD provides new understanding of service users’ experiences of mental illness in an Arabic context. Further research is needed about the topic. However, the grounded theory of reciprocity membership provides a potential starting point that mental health professionals can use to support personal recovery.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSteven Pryjmachuk (Supervisor) & Christopher Todd (Supervisor)


  • Qatar
  • Mental Health
  • Recovery
  • Grounded Theory
  • Reciprocity Membership

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