Impact of jointly using an e–Mental health resource (self-management and recovery technology) on interactions between service users experiencing severe mental illness and community mental health workers: Grounded theory study

Anne Williams, Ellie Fossey, John Farhall, Fiona Foley, Neil Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: e–Mental health resources are increasingly available for people who experience severe mental illness, including those who are users of community mental health services. However, the potential for service users (SUs) living with severe mental illness to use e–mental health resources together with their community mental health workers (MHWs) has received little attention. Objective: This study aims to identify how jointly using an interactive website called Self-Management And Recovery Technology (SMART) in a community mental health context influenced therapeutic processes and interactions between SUs and MHWs from their perspective. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. Data were collected through individual semistructured interviews with 37 SUs and 15 MHWs who used the SMART website together for 2 to 6 months. Data analysis involved iterative phases of coding, constant comparison, memo writing, theoretical sampling, and consultation with stakeholders to support the study’s credibility. Results: A substantive grounded theory, discovering ways to keep life on track, was developed, which portrays a shared discovery process arising from the SU-worker-SMART website interactions. The discovery process included choosing to use the website, revealing SUs’ experiences, exploring these experiences, and gaining new perspectives on how SUs did and could keep their lives on track. SUs and MHWs perceived that their three-way interactions were enjoyable, beneficial, and recovery focused when using the website together. They experienced the shared discovery process as relationship building—their interactions when using the website together were more engaging and equal. Conclusions: Jointly using an e–mental health resource elicited recovery-oriented interactions and processes between SUs and MHWs that strengthened their therapeutic relationship in real-world community mental health services. Further work to develop and integrate this novel use of e–mental health in community mental health practice is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25998
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Digital mental health
  • Lived experience video
  • Mobile phone
  • Personal recovery
  • Recovery narratives
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tablet computers
  • Therapeutic relationship

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