“Nourishing Communion”: A Less Recognized Dimension of Support for Young Persons Facing Mental Health Challenges?

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This study, the third in a series of 3, draws on a broader Norwegian research project exploring the phenomenon of support for young persons with mental health issues. The aim was to explore and explicate the sense of “nourishing communion,” as a somewhat neglected aspect of support. Fourteen Norwegian young adults, aged 18–25, were interviewed about their experiences of support. Data was analyzed using van Manen’s hermeneutic-phenomenological approach to open up possible meanings of how nourishing communion is concretely lived. Analysis was supplemented by in-depth reflexive dialogues between Mona Sommer and Linda Finlay, which fostered a nourishing communion akin to the processes and dimensions of our phenomenon of interest. Findings highlight 5 intertwined existential themes: (a) trusting the other to hold vulnerability safely; (b) flourishing in mutual participation; (c) acceptance in a felt togetherness; (d) feeling found and received; and (e) feeling an attuned resonance. The notion of “nourishing communion” as a significant but neglected element of support challenges current practice, suggesting the need for a different approach to collaboration with young persons and their networks. From the perspectives both of individual professional engagement and of policy making, there is a need for further exploration of how young persons might be supported to create and maintain a broader range of nourishing relationships.

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