Mental health and wellbeing are foundational in human interaction and life satisfaction. Persons with complex communication needs are at risk of reduced mental health and wellbeing. The aim of this project was to identify the facilitators and barriers that individuals with complex communication needs experience when attending to their mental health and wellbeing. A qualitative study design using a phenomenological approach was utilized. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with three participants with complex communication needs, observation, and reflexive journaling. An inductive process of cross-case thematic analysis identified common barriers and facilitators experienced by the participants when addressing mental health and wellbeing. The opportunity barriers described in Beukelman and Mirenda’s Participation Model were applied to classify the assistive and obstructive roles of communication partners. Barriers and facilitators to obtaining assistance for mental health and wellbeing related predominantly to communication partners’ skills, attitudes, and support practices. The findings highlight a need to equip individuals with complex communication needs, carers, support workers, and mental health professionals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to promote mental health and wellbeing among this population.
- augmentative and alternative communication
- communication partners
- mental health; participation model
- qualitative research