Mental health matters: a pilot study exploring the experiences and perspectives of individuals with complex communication needs

Eleanor Watson, Parimala Raghavendra, Ruth Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-112
Number of pages11
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Volume37
Issue number2
Early online date21 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Adults
  • augmentative and alternative communication
  • communication partners
  • mental health; participation model
  • qualitative research

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