The present study examined the longitudinal impact of self-compassion and psychological flexibility on clinical recovery and personal recovery among people with mental illness and explored the potential mechanisms underlying this impact. We hypothesized that self-compassion and psychological flexibility would be longitudinally associated with higher levels of clinical recovery and personal recovery and these longitudinal associations would be mediated by lower levels of self-stigma and disengagement from mental health services.
On three occasions (i.e., T1, T2, and T3) across 2 years, 202 people with mental illness provided questionnaire data on self-compassion, psychological flexibility, self-stigma, service disengagement, clinical recovery, and personal recovery.
Path analyses showed that self-compassion and psychological flexibility at T1 had significant direct effects on self-stigma and service disengagement at T2, which, in turn, had significant direct effects on clinical recovery and personal recovery at T3. Bootstrap analyses further showed that self-compassion and psychological flexibility at T1 had significant indirect effects on clinical recovery and personal recovery at T3 through self-stigma and service disengagement at T2.
Our findings reveal how self-compassion and psychological flexibility may enable people with mental illness to reduce self-stigma and service disengagement, which can, in turn, facilitate symptomatic remission and promote psychological wellness. These findings point to the potential utility of cultivating self-compassion and psychological flexibility in enabling people with mental illness to recover from mental health problems and live hopeful and satisfying lives.
This study is not preregistered.
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Data used in this study are available at the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/d9r6y/).
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We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the following non-governmental organizations (in alphabetical order) for facilitating us in recruiting eligible participants from their service users: Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service; Christian Oi Hip Fellowship Limited; New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association; The Mental Health Association of Hong Kong; and The Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention.
This study was funded by the Early Career Scheme of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (Project Number: 28611515).
This study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of The Education University of Hong Kong.
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Chan, K.K.S., Tsui, J.K.C. & Tang, A.T.Y. Longitudinal Impact of Self-Compassion and Psychological Flexibility on Mental Illness Recovery: The Mediating Roles of Self-Stigma and Mental Health Service Engagement. Mindfulness 14, 1125–1134 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-023-02127-2