Personal recovery and involuntary mental health admissions: The importance of control, relationships and hope


Purpose: Involuntary mental health admissions remain a highly contested area in law, policy and practice. There are growing concerns about the effectiveness and potential harms of using coercion to enable treatment. These concerns are heightened by the worldwide shift to recovery oriented care, which emphasizes the importance for mental health consumers experiencing self- sufficiency, control and having input into their own treatment. Involuntary treatment challenges these very principles. Methods: For this study we adapted Noblit and Hare Meta Ethnography methods and synthesized the themes of seven qualitative studies which focused on the experiences of involuntary mental health admission. Results: Seven overarching dimensions were identified as either hindering or facilitating recovery, namely: 1) having input into own treatment; 2) shared humanity; 3) power imbalance/ balance; 4) freedom and control; 5) ability/inability to incorporate the episode/experience; 6) treatment factors; and 7) importance of relationships. Conclusions: The findings of this study indicate that the recovery framework, in particular the concepts of hope, relationships and control are very relevant in the context of involuntary settings.

Share and Cite:

Wyder, M. , Bland, R. and Crompton, D. (2013) Personal recovery and involuntary mental health admissions: The importance of control, relationships and hope. Health, 5, 574-581. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.53A076.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Morgan, V., Waterreus, A., Jablensky, A., Mackinnon, A., McGrath, J., Carr, V., Bush, R., Castle, D., Cohen, M., Harvey, C., Galletly, C., Stain, H., Neil, A., McGorry, P., Hocking, B. and Shah, S. (2010) People living with psychotic illness. Report on the 2nd Australian National Survey, Commonwealth Department of Health & Aging, Canberra.
[2] Kallert, T.W., Glackner, M. and Schutzwohl, M. (2008) Involuntary vs. voluntary hospital admission. A systematic literature review on outcome diversity. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 258, 195- 209. doi:10.1007/s00406-007-0777-4
[3] Bland, R., Renouf, N. and Tullgren, A. (2009) Social work practice in mental health. Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
[4] Churchill, R., Owen, G., Singh, S. and Hotopf, M. (2007) International experiences of using community treatment orders. Department of Health, London.
[5] Davidson, L., O’Connell, M., Tondora, J. and Lawless, M. (2005) Recovery in serious mental illness: A new wine or just a new bottle? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 450-487.
[6] Jacobson, N. and Curtis, L. (2000) Recovery policy in mental health services: Strategies. States Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, 23, 333-341.
[7] Meadows, G., Singh, B. and Grigg, M. (2007) Mental health in Australia. Melbourne. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
[8] Jacobson, N. and Greenley, D. (2001) What is recovery? A conceptual model and explanation. Psychiatric Services, 52, 482-485.
[9] Commonwealth of Australia (2010) National standards for mental health. Canberra, Australian Government.
[10] Katsakou, C., Rose, D., Amos, T., Bowers, T., McCabe, R., Oliver, D., Wykes, T. and Priebe, S. (2012) Psychiatric patients’ views on why their involuntary hospitalisation was right or wrong: A qualitative study. Social Psy-Chiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47, 1169-1179. doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0427-z
[11] Bonsack, C. and Borgeat, F. (2005) Perceived coercion and need for hospitalization related to psychiatric admission. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 28, 342-347.
[12] Noblit, G. and Hare, D. (1988) Meta-ethnography: Synthesizing qualitative studies. Sage Publications, London.
[13] Olofsson, B. and Norberg, A. (2000) Experiences of coercion in psychiatric care as narrated by patients, nurses and physicians. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 33, 89-97. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.2001.01641.x
[14] Bland, R. and Epstein, M. (2008) Encouraging principles of consumer participation and partnership: The way forward in mental health practice in Australia. In: Taylor, S. Foster, M. and Editors, F.J., Eds., Health Care Practice in Australia, Allen and Unwin, South Melbourne, 239-254
[15] Andreasson, E. and Skarsater, J. (2012) Patients treated for psychosis and their perceptions of care in compulsory treatment: Basis for an action plan. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 19, 15-22. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01748.x
[16] Gilburt, H., Rose, D. and Slade, M. (2008) The importance of relationship in mental health care: A qualitative study of service users’ experiences of psychiatric hospital admission in the UK. BMC Health Service Research, 8, 92-104. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-92
[17] Hughes, R., Hayward, M. and Finlay, W. (2009) Patients’ perceptions of the impact of involuntary inpatient care on self, relationships and recovery. Journal of Mental Health, 18, 152-160. doi:10.1080/09638230802053326
[18] Kontio, R., Joffe, G., Putkonen, H., Kuosmanen, L., Hane, K., Holi, M. and Valimiki, M. (2012) Seclusion and restraint in psychiatry: Patients experiences and practical suggestions on how to improve practice and use alternatives. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 48, 16-24. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6163.2010.00301.x
[19] Johanson, I. and Lundman, B. (2002) Patients’ experiences of involuntary psychiatric care: Good opportunities and great losses. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 9, 639-647. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2850.2002.00547.x
[20] Olofsson, B. and Jacobson, L. (2001) A plea for respect: Involuntary hospitalized psychiatric patients’ narratives about being subjected to coercion. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8, 357-366. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2850.2001.00404.x

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.