Individuals living with serious mental illness are at high risk of chronic homelessness, victimization, and intimate partner violence. In recent years, supportive housing programs have emerged as one way to prevent homelessness and victimization for this population, while also expanding social interactions and social networks. In concert with a focal supportive housing program, this research conducted two focus groups with 18 individuals who have a serious mental illness diagnosis. The authors sought to answer the research question, “What are perceptions of healthy and unhealthy relationships among formerly homeless people with serious mental illness?” To this end, the eight-item questionnaire was created around dimensions of power and control, as well as relationship equality. Findings from an inductive thematic analysis reveal three broad families of themes (relationship ideals, lived experiences, and risk/resources in supportive housing), around which smaller themes and subthemes are organized. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are also discussed.
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I’d like to begin by talking about your relationships away from Community Strong. Tell me about the friends you spend time with for fun.
What qualities do you look for in your friends?
What happens if a friend breaks your trust? How do you deal with that?
Now I’d like you to discuss your dating relationships. What makes a healthy dating relationship?
What makes an unhealthy dating relationship?
If you’ve been in a relationship that you consider unhealthy, what did you do to fix the relationship? In other words: How did things turn out?
If you could design a program to help young people improve their dating relationships, what lessons would you include in that program?
Is there anything else you would like to share about healthy and unhealthy relationships?
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Forenza, B., Bermea, A.M. An Exploratory Analysis of Unhealthy and Abusive Relationships for Adults with Serious Mental Illnesses Living in Supportive Housing. Community Ment Health J 53, 679–687 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-017-0141-8