Perspectives about mental health, illness, and recovery

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Purpose of review

Patient and physician perspectives about mental health, illness, and recovery, which affect different aspects of help seeking and healthcare, needs to be understood and theorized.

Recent findings

People seem to simultaneously hold multiple and contradictory illness beliefs and seek help from diverse sources of cure and healing. Explanatory models elicited at baseline do not predict outcomes of illness, change over time, and are dependent on the interaction between the trajectory of individual's illness and the sociocultural milieu. Illness narratives contextualize the patient, describe the patient's reality and his/her ways of coping, and attempt to make sense of illness experiences, control them, and improve quality of life. On the other hand, diversity of beliefs among psychiatrists, family physicians, and public health specialists is dependent on their disciplinary perspectives. Nevertheless, the variability within psychiatric syndromes and the inability to predict individual trajectories of illness support cultural beliefs about uncertainties of life. These are identified by cultures through idioms and metaphors and labeled as luck, chance, karma, fate, punishment by God, evil spirits, black magic, disease and so on.


There is a need for a broad-based approach to mental health, which allows individuals to make sense of their contexts and find meaning in life.

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