Quality of life
Living with a mental health condition
Quality of life is a broad topic that encompasses a range different of areas such as life satisfaction, and multidimensional factors that include physical health, psychological state, level of independence, family, education, wealth, religious beliefs, a sense of optimism, local services and transport, employment, social relationships, housing and the environment. It can be influenced by cultural perspectives, values, personal expectations, and goals.
For people diagnosed with a mental health problem, especially those with a severe and enduring condition, quality of life, including what it means and how to achieve it is key to leading a fulfilling life. To some extent mental health services have begun to move from a focus on reducing a person’s symptoms to thinking about well-being and functioning. For someone diagnosed with a health problem, quality of life will also be affected by their acceptance of their condition and their ability to manage any negative thoughts and emotions about that condition.
Quality of life for people with mental health problems has been the subject of research for some time. Much of this has looked at what quality of life means and how it can be improved. One research review found that areas of quality of life important to people with mental health problems included well-being and ill-being, control, autonomy and choice, belonging, activity, optimism, and hope. The concept of well-being is distinct from but interconnected to quality of life. Well-being looks at people’s positive evaluations of their daily lives such as how content they are with life, their participation in society, their degree of resilience, and the extent to which they can realise their potential. Quality of life, especially in relation to health, includes understanding people with long-term health conditions and how this impacts their mental, emotional and social functioning.
Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an important area of research. This concept includes domains related to physical health, mental health, emotional and social functioning, and the impact of chronic or long-term illnesses on these.
Physical health and well-being have become important areas of focus in quality of life research. Some studies have examined the relationship between improving quality of life by increasing physical activity. The findings from one study suggest physical activity contributes towards many aspects of quality of life domains, including emotional well-being, social functioning, as well as physical health.
Quality of life is a very personal and subjective experience, despite its association with physical health. Other factors that can influence a person’s quality of life include a wide range of other areas. Family circumstances, level of education, employment status, income and wealth, and the environment a person lives and works all play a key part in shaping quality of life and how a person perceives their world and the world around them.
The main objectives of the project are to understand and raise awareness of:
- The perspectives of patients and significant others (e.g. carers, friends, family) and their experience of what impacts on and improves their quality of life, including areas such as their physical health and well-being, family, education, employment, wealth, and the environment where they live/work.
- The approaches used by patients with regards to self-learning, self-care, self-management and self-healing. This includes what a person finds helpful through their own discoveries, which can be shared with other patients and healthcare professionals.
Two 2-hour workshops have been convened with around 15 to 20 people with lived experience of a mental health condition. The workshops focused on specific sub-themes within quality of life, such as relationships, hobbies, self-worth, identity and communication with carers.
The information gathered from the workshops will be used to produce a guide for patients entitled: “Top Tips for Managing A Better Quality of life”. The guide will feature patients’ perspectives on the issue and will be complemented with an overview of the latest research on the topic.
Read the booklet here
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The first part of the project involved the production of a mini-documentary on quality of life, entitled: ‘Beyond a Mental health Diagnosis: What is Quality of life?’ The video included individuals from the project target groups, particularly patients. It featured interviews about what living with a mental health condition is like and the elements and activities that helped improve their quality of life.
THE INDIVIDUAL STORIES
As a way to capture the subjectivity and complexity behind the concept of quality of life, we will produce a series of individual patient stories.
The stories will take the form of short written articles. Their aim will be to engage the public and touch upon a wide range of topics pertaining to quality of life such has self-healing, relationships, and socio-economic difficulties. Interviews with patients from our member organisations will serve to inform these stories.