Promoting the mental and physical wellbeing of people with mental health difficulties through social enterprise

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-06-2018-0019
Date28 November 2019
Pages262-274
Publication Date28 November 2019
AuthorSandra Elaine Hartley,Gillian Yeowell,Susan Caron Powell
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health
Promoting the mental and physical
wellbeing of people with mental health
difficulties through social enterprise
Sandra Elaine Hartley, Gillian Yeowell and Susan Caron Powell
Abstract
Purpose Interventions that promote both mental and physical wellbeing have been advocated for people
with mental health difficulties, as they have been found to engage less in healthy behaviours and have lower
levels of physical fitness. However, no optimal approach to facilitate this undertaking has been identified. The
purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of people with psychological distress who accessed a
social enterprise that fosters the building of positive social networks in the community, as part of a
personalised recovery programme. The intention was to gain an insight into its therapeutic effect in relation to
mental and physical health.
Design/methodology/approach An exploratory survey design was undertaken with a purposive sample
of 50 individuals who had attended the enterprise. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were
employed to analyse the data from both closed and open-ended questions.
Findings The wellbeing service appeared to provide a supportive environment that offered people access
to social networks through their participation in local services and activities. Fostering participantsactive
participation, connection building and the ability to make meaningful contributions helped to facilitate health
behaviours that had a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.
Originality/value This study highlights the potential role of a social enterprise in optimising the social
context for promoting the health and wellbeing of people with mental health difficulties.
Keywords Social networks, Wellbeing, Physical activity, Mental health, Social enterprise,
Health promotion
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Interventions fostering the adoption of healthy habits that promote both mental and physical
health have been advocated for people with mental health difficulties (Happell et al., 2012).
Participating in regular physical activity has been found to have beneficial effects on depression,
anxiety and physical fitness (Rosenbaum et al., 2014; Rebar et al., 2016; Stubbs et al., 2017).
However, people with mental health difficulties often have low levels of engagement in physical
activity and other healthy pursuits (Helgadóttir et al., 2018; Kemp et al., 2015). Therefore, finding
effective ways to foster positive changes in health behaviours of people with mental health
difficulties is vital.
Social conditions are known to have a significant impact on the determination of health (Griswold
et al., 2013). Specifically, social networks that people have access to and the strength of the
relationships that these afford are thought to have a positive effect on mental and physical health
(Perry and Pescosolido, 2015; Vassilev et al., 2016). Social engagement with others has also
been found to support individuals to adhere to healthy pursuits (Hartley and Yeowell, 2015;
Kemp et al., 2015). However, people with mental health difficulties tend to have fewer social
networks and feel less affiliated with others (Hamer et al., 2014). Their stigmatisation and
marginalisation by others may also inhibit them from developing social networks (Hamer et al.,
Received 28 June 2018
Revised 13 March 2019
10 August 2019
Accepted 19 September 2019
The authors declare that there are
no conflicts of interest. Ethical
permission was provided by the
University Ethics Committee:
Application No. 1228.
Sandra Elaine Hartley,
Gillian Yeowell and
Susan Caron Powell are all
based at the Department of
Health Professions,
Manchester Metropolitan
University, Manchester, UK.
PAGE262
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MENTALHEALTH REVIEW JOURNAL
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VOL. 24 NO. 4 2019, pp. 262-274, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1361-9322 DOI 10.1108/MHRJ-06-2018-0019

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