University of Limerick
Carolan_2017_Lived.pdf (1.65 MB)

The lived experience of homeless people accessing mental health services – met and unmet need – An exploratory study

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posted on 2022-12-15, 11:31 authored by Rory Carolan
Introduction: Research has highlighted high levels of unmet need among people with severe mental illness experiencing homelessness. The current study aimed to explore the subjective lived experience of a sample of this population to explore their perspective on areas of unmet and met need, and to examine their perspective on engaging with mental health services in an effort to promote personal recovery. Method: A qualitative design was utilised involving the completion of semi-structured interviews with participants. The researcher interviewed ten individuals with experience of homelessness and a diagnosis of severe mental illness currently in receipt of mental health support from a specialist mental health service for homeless people. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Results: Analysis using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) generated five stages among participant narratives. These were: Tough Beginnings – A Bumpy Start; Critical Events – Losing Control of the Wheel; Striving to Survive – Seeking Help to Share the Drive; Stabilising and Healing – Finding a Safe Road Together; and Growing – Retaking Control of the Wheel. Ongoing threats to recovery via ongoing trauma, and recovery facilitators in the form of resilience are also discussed. Discussion: This study provided a comprehensive novel account of the stages encountered on the recovery journey of individuals with severe mental illness experiencing homelessness in Ireland. The findings of the current study are discussed in the context of previous literature. Implications for policy, education, practice and future research are discussed with particular emphasis on trauma-informed and personal recovery-oriented approaches to service delivery.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Coughlan, Barry





Department or School

  • Psychology

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