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Synopsis

Living Recovery provides critical information for practitioners and educators in mental health services about the self-described needs of young people diagnosed with mental illness. It portrays the stages of living with mental illness through the recovery model ELAR—emergence, loss, adaptation, and recovery. The author interviewed youth aged sixteen to twenty-seven in Canada, Australia, and the US, and her book relates the price of the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially for young people who are already challenged with the developmental tasks of adolescence. The text examines the youth-described “social illness” of stigma and the resulting self-marginalization they say is necessary to survive stigma and social isolation. When youth feel isolated, ignored, or shunned, the resulting shame and stress they may feel has the potential to exacerbate such illnesses as obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, anxiety, and/or various mood disorders.

The findings from this research anticipate and identify interventions that are useful for youth with mental illness. If programs and systems of care take into account youth stories such as those presented here, interventions will become more meaningful and more likely to address problems related to social and emotional distresses.

In charting journeys through the emergence of illness, to loss, adaptation, and recovery, the book reports on how mental illness disrupted these youths’ lives on every level, especially in the transition from late adolescence to young adulthood. But youth also describe ways in which they adapted and recovered and how they came to “own the illness” with a greater sense of agency and self-direction.

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