Time and Belonging: The Experience of Good Mental Health and its Implication for Mental Health Work

When Norway established a post graduate program in mental health work in 1997, its curriculum increased the focus on user involvement and recovery. Our study is based on recovery studies, but shifts the focus from the recovery process to the experience of good mental health. In this article we present a phenomenological study of good mental health. Five users of mental health services were asked to write their account of an experience of good mental health. We have analyzed these accounts using Giorgi’s descriptive phenomenological method. The analysis reveals two significant themes: Time experienced as an expanding moment, and the importance of belonging. These two themes are described and elaborated on. Good mental health appears as a lasting moment during which a person may experience calmness, a sense of fitting in, and a sense of belonging. Consequently, patience and attentive presence must be central in the practice and development of good mental health work.