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Together through tough times: a qualitative study of community resilience to protect against mental health issues in the UK

Kris Southby (Centre for Health Promotion Research, School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Tim Bidey (Traverse Ltd., London, UK)
Duncan Grimes (NatCen Social Research, London, UK)
Zoe Khor (Traverse Ltd., London, UK)
Jane South (Centre for Health Promotion Research, School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Anne-Marie Bagnall (Centre for Health Promotion Research, School of Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 3 November 2022

Issue publication date: 28 November 2022

33

Abstract

Purpose

Living in an area experiencing economic and social disadvantage is a known risk factor to poor mental health and well-being. This paper aims to understand how some communities experiencing disadvantage appear to be more resilient to the enduring challenges they face and display better mental health outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative case study approach was used. Semi-structured interviews (total = 74) were undertaken remotely with residents (n = 39) and voluntary, community and social enterprise groups, community leaders and other local stakeholders (n = 35) in four case study areas. Data analysis was cross-case, thematic analysis. Community analysis workshops (n = 4) and resilience mapping workshops (n = 4) in each site corroborated emerging insights.

Findings

Four overlapping and interacting themes support community resilience: community hubs and local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) networks; opportunities to participate and make connections within communities; open and supportive environments to talk about mental health and well-being; and community identities and collective narratives. Differences in access to these resources was a cross-cutting theme.

Originality/value

Community resilience can be understood in terms of the amount of resources – articulated in terms of capital – that communities can draw on in response to challenges, and how well these resources are mobilised. A thriving VCSE sector is important for community resilience in communities experiencing disadvantage as a mechanism for both sustainably building and mobilising community resources in the face of daily and enduring challenges.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the following people for their contribution to the research: Erin Mee (Mind), Jacob Diggle (Mind), Vicki Nash (Mind); Kerry Davis (Mind); Naomi Hayes (Co-op); Sophie Corlett (Mind); Suzanne Martin (SAMH), Michelle Howorth (Inspire), Sophie Wozmirska (Co-op), and Euan Millard (SAMH). They would also like to thank the local community organisations and members of the public who participated in the research.

Funding: Funding for this research was provided through a competitive tendering process led by Mind, SAMH, and Inspire, made possible through their charity partnership with Co-op. The funders designed the research brief and, as members of the research support and challenge group, had three points of input into the research: during inception to inform and sense check the research design, including the sampling for site selection, and data collection methods and tools; following data collection to discuss emergent findings; and prior to reporting to review key messages and proposed routes to actions.

Citation

Southby, K., Bidey, T., Grimes, D., Khor, Z., South, J. and Bagnall, A.-M. (2022), "Together through tough times: a qualitative study of community resilience to protect against mental health issues in the UK", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 279-287. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-03-2022-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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