Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Social Science


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Professor Eamon Shanley


This study has sought to identify the core variables or factors that are utilised by people with a diagnosis of mental illness in a time of transition. The specific transition involved study participants exiting a non government community mental health agency. The variables of interest are those that assist individuals to cope during this time of change and transition. The specific transition involves participants leaving or exiting from a non government mental health agency that provides community based, psychosocial support. The study topic is located in the context of a formalised mental health system in the process of changing from predominantly hospital to community based care options. The major variable that has been found to assist people in this process is that of narrating about the experience of transition. The other core variables found to assist in the process of transition are undertaking meaningful activity: having sufficient support systems: having access to adequately supportive social networks: possessing minimal mental health risk factors: ability to self manage mental health factors; possessing adequate self esteem and confidence. Narrating is a process undertaken by an individual which describes past and present experiences: hopes, desires and goals and beliefs about self, others and the environment occupied by the individual. The narrative constructed is materialised in action taken by the individual or externalised versions of the narrative shared and enacted with others. Four other categories have been identified in addition to the core category of narrating. These categories have been found to be relevant and pertinent to all participants in varying degrees and descriptions. In addition, these categories are found to be related to the types of consequences that flow from the process of narrating. In addition to the identification of core variables that assist the process of transition, consideration has been given to context in which participants operate and contemporary theoretical advances in the mental health field.