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“My actual mind and body is in a better place, I just feel better since coming here”: recovery and mental wellbeing

Thomas James Parkman (Research Fellow, based at Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




An increasing literature points to the efficacy and importance of mutual aid groups for people recovering from substance dependency. However, there is a paucity of qualitative evidence into the experiences and perceptions of service users attending UK-based mutual aid groups, and the implications they could have for recovery and mental wellbeing. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


A phenomenological approach was chosen to explore the experiences and perceptions of service users and mentors at a mutual aid group in Leeds. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with service users and mentors (ex-service users) involved with the project. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.


This paper focuses on the influence of mutual aid attendance on mental wellbeing. It was found that attendance seemed to have positive influences on providing structure, reducing stress and boredom, “broadening the mind” and providing service users with a social network that supported their recovery and mental wellbeing. However, it was also found that for those that have little outside the project, dependency on the group could develop, resulting in negative consequences on mental wellbeing.


This paper provides an increased understanding of why mutual attendance has influences on mental wellbeing, as well as the implications such impacts have on recovery trajectories.



This research was carried out in part fulfilment for a PhD funded by the National Institute of Health Research and the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care. The author would like to thank Charlie Lloyd and Professor Karen Spilsbury, Professor Karl Atkin, Professor Kate Pickett and Dr Laura Sheard.


James Parkman, T. (2014), "“My actual mind and body is in a better place, I just feel better since coming here”: recovery and mental wellbeing", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 194-204.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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