Quality of life
Living with a mental health condition
Quality of life is a broad area 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 on 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 primary aim of this work is to identify what do people do to improve their quality of life and what it means to them?
In this proposal we will focus on the health aspects of quality of life, in particular mental health and well-being.
The main questions concerning this project include:
a) What do people diagnosed with a mental health problem consider important to improving their quality of life?
b) How can mental health and well-being be improved?
c) What support do people receive that improve their quality of life?
d) How does the individual’s family contribute?
e) Is being in paid employment an important way to improve quality of life? And why?
Many of the people likely to be involved in this work will be in touch with mental health services. We will explore briefly any support provided by these service to help improve quality of life; for example, whether employment support is offered to people with mental health problems who are currently unemployed. There is some evidence to suggest employment is positively associated with HRQoL for people diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The main objectives of the project are to understand:
1) 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.
2) What approaches people use 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.
Part of the project’s focus is to explore what strategies and techniques patients and their significant others have acquired and use to improve their quality of life, their mental/physical health and well-being.
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