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There seems no place for place: a gap analysis of the recovery literature

Ian Yates (Clinical Psychologist for South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust, Lancaster, UK)
Guy Holmes (Clinical Psychologist for the South Staffordshire & Shropshire Foundation Trust National Health Service, Stafford, UK)
Helena Priest (Senior Lecturer/Research Director in the Faculty of Sciences, Staffordshire University, Stoke‐On‐Trent, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 16 September 2011




This paper seeks to discuss recent research concerning the subjective experience of recovery from severe mental health difficulties, with the aim of appraising the extent to which this literature has attended to the role of environmental and social conditions.


Following an overview of research focusing on environmental and social conditions and mental health generally, a focused literature review was undertaken to analyse gaps within the recovery literature, specifically in relation to the importance of environmental or social contexts. Thematic analysis was used to derive salient themes from this literature. Research methodologies are appraised with regards to the extent to which they are congruent with an examination of the context of recovery.


A total of 11 papers relating to the impact of place or context on recovery were reviewed. Key themes identified were: the relationship between place, social context, and identity; safety and security; social connectedness; and contradictory impacts of the mental health system. The authors argue that recent qualitative research has over emphasised the subjective experience of recovery at the expense of a rich description of the place in which research is conducted. This approach dislocates recovery from its geographical location and the wider political and economic system in which it occurs.


A gap is identified within the current literature concerning recovery from severe mental health difficulties. In order to better understand the environmental factors that contribute to recovery, research needs to include rich descriptions of place, i.e. the physical and social environment as situated within the wider political and economic context.



Yates, I., Holmes, G. and Priest, H. (2011), "There seems no place for place: a gap analysis of the recovery literature", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 140-150.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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