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The impact of living with long-term conditions in young adulthood on mental health and identity: What can help?
journal contributionposted on 2023-09-01, 14:31 authored by Ceri Wilson, Jennifer Stock
Background: It has been suggested that the mental health impacts of living with long-term conditions are greater in young adulthood compared to older adulthood, due to greater disruption to identity and routine life events. Objectives: To explore the impact of living with long-term conditions in young adulthood on mental health and identity, and what helps living well with these conditions. Methods: Fifteen in-depth interviews with young adults with various conditions were conducted and analysed thematically. Results: Themes related to the impacts on mental health and identity include: negative mood and depression; anxiety and fear for the future; identity as ‘ill’/abnormal compared to former self and ‘normal’ others. Themes related to suggestions for addressing negative impacts include: promotion of positive thinking; support reaching acceptance with altered identity and limitations (through stages of denial, anger, depression, then acceptance); and more professional mental health support. Discussion: In order to promote mental health and a positive sense of self/identity, young adults with long-term conditions should be offered advice and support on: positive thinking; the long and difficult process of reconstructing identity; and reaching acceptance. This is particularly important for young adults for whom the identity reconstruction process is more complex and psychologically damaging than for older adults; as this life stage is associated with health/vitality and illness represents a shift from a perceived normal trajectory to one that appears and feels abnormal.
Publication titleHealth Expectations
- Accepted version