The effect of identity self-discrepancies on psychological distress for emerging adults with mental ill health, and the mediating effects of mental health recovery factors

Debra RICKWOOD, Jessica Ferry

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Objective: Emerging adults in late adolescence and early adulthood are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems as research shows that three quarters of all adult mental health issues commence by the age of 24. It is essential that mental health services are developed that are appropriate and effective for this age group, yet the mental health recovery literature has been largely dominated by studies conducted on adult mental health consumers, particularly with long-term psychosis-related mental disorders. Key recovery processes relevant for adult mental health consumers are connectedness, hope, identity, meaning, and empowerment. Identity is likely to be a particularly salient process for emerging adults as it is during this lifestage that identity formation needs to be achieved. The current study aimed to understand the relationship between identity and mental health for emerging adults by examining the effect of identity self-discrepancies on psychological distress and the mediating effects of key recovery processes. Research Design and Methods: A self-report questionnaire was completed by 244 young people aged 15 to 25 years experiencing mental health problems in Australia. Results: Expected and ideal self-discrepancies were associated with higher levels of psychological distress, but not future self-discrepancies. Higher levels of hope were associated with lower levels of psychological distress and being at a further stage of recovery. Conclusions: The important role of identity in recovery from mental health problems for emerging adults is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Recovery in Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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