An exploration of the social identity of mental health inpatient service users

Authors

  • L. JACKSON bsc(hons) d clinpsych,

    1. Clinical Psychologist, Psychosocial Interventions Team, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, Birmingham,
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  • J. A. TUDWAY bsc(hons) clinpsyd,

    1. Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Phoenix Psychological Services, Warwick Corner, Kenilworth, Warwickshire,
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  • D. GILES bsc(hons) phd,

    1. Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Department of Psychology, Institute for Health Research, Bowland Tower East, Lancaster University, Lancaster, and
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  • J. SMITH bsc(hons) msc phd

    1. Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, c/o Psychology Department, Wulston Unit, Newtown Hospital, Worcester, UK
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L. Jackson
Psychosocial Interventions Team
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust
Morcom House
Ladywood
Birmingham
UK
E-mail: lynsey.jackson@bsmhft.nhs.uk

Abstract

Social identity theory proposes that a threatened social identity can impact on self-concept and well-being. As a low-status minority group, mental health service users face the possibility of a threatened social identity compounding existing mental health problems. This may be further complicated by an inpatient admission where the context in which social identity is maintained has changed from a community setting. We use a qualitative approach to explore the salient social identity of mental health inpatient service users using semi-structured interviews. Analysis showed that the salient in-groups and out-groups mainly centred around the inpatient context but were somewhat influenced by non-mental health service group membership. Participants also talked of their unique characteristics as group members. How these findings relate to social identity theory and, particularly how they relate to mental health service users within changing contexts is explored.

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