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.
The main objectives of the project were 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.
Several 2-hour workshops were convened with around 20 people with lived experience. The workshops focused on specific 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 features patients’ perspectives on the issue and is complemented by he latest research on the topic.
The project also involved the production of a mini-documentary on quality of life, entitled: ‘Beyond a Mental health Diagnosis: What is Quality of life?’. It features interviews about the lived experience of a mental health condition is like and the elements and activities that helped improve patients’ quality of life.
The individual stories
In order to capture the complexity and capture the subjectivity and complexity behind the concept of quality of life, a series of individual lived experience stories were also produced, and launched as a part of a European-wide media campaign for World Mental Health Day 2021.