Lived experiences of mental health conditions in Singapore: A constructivist grounded theory study



Since the 1990s, the mental healthcare field has begun shifting to conceptualisations of personal mental health recovery, emphasising the heterogeneous nature of how people develop and overcome the difficulties associated with mental ill health. Despite three decades of research on the topic, most recovery-oriented studies have been conducted in predominantly Western cultures, lacking the necessary nuances when applied in Asian settings.


We sought to contribute to a growing body of research to fill this gap by exploring the experiences of people who experience mental ill-health in Singapore.


We adopted a constructivist grounded theory approach and interviewed 21 people who had been diagnosed as experiencing a mental health condition.


The core category emerging from interview participant perspectives was a ‘roller coaster ride of confusion’. This overarching category was made up of the following four sub-categories – ‘not understanding what was happening’, ‘losing control over self’, ‘unpacking the root of challenges’ and ‘trying to make sense of the situation’.


Taken together, the journey of a person experiencing mental health recovery in Singapore is filled with obstacles and uncertainty due to various social and cultural influences such as family pressures, the competitiveness of society and the high-pressure nature of Singapore’s educational system. Future research needs to better understand if these are generalisable experiences, and interventions to mitigate their impact need to be explored. Given the strong societal influences, change will take time. Still, this study gives a voice to the lived experiences of people who face mental health challenges in Singapore in the hope that their insights may assist future generations in developing a more mentally healthy society.


Lived experience, mental illness, mental disorder, Singapore, Asia

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