The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

‘He’s my mate you see’: a critical discourse analysis of the therapeutic role of companion animals in the social networks of people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness

‘He’s my mate you see’: a critical discourse analysis of the therapeutic role of companion animals in the social networks of people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness
‘He’s my mate you see’: a critical discourse analysis of the therapeutic role of companion animals in the social networks of people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness
There is increasing recognition of the role pets play in the management of mental health conditions. Evidence suggests that pets promote social interaction and provide secure and intimate relationships which support the management of symptoms. This paper aimed to extend this evidence by exploring the phenomenological understanding of relationships and relationality with companion animals as therapeutic agents in the context of people’s wider social networks.

A qualitative study was undertaken incorporating 35 interviews with 12 participants with a diagnosis of severe mental illness who identified a pet as being important in the management of mental health. Participants took part in three in-depth interviews centred on ego network mapping over a 12-month period (baseline, 6 and 12 months). A critical discourse analysis examined therapeutic relationships with pets in relation to mental health and compared these to other types of support over time. Summative discourse analyses were combined with a cross-case thematic analysis to look for commonalities and differences across individuals.

Compared with interactions with other therapeutic agents, relationships with pets were free from the obligations and complexities associated with other types of network members and provided an extension and reinforcement to an individual’s sense of self which militated against the negative experiences associated with mental illness. Relationships with human network members were more variable in terms of consistency and capacity to manage demands (eg, network members requiring support themselves) and the emotions of others associated with fluctuations in mental health.

This study adds weight to research supporting the inclusion of companion animals in the lexicon of mental health self-management through the therapeutic value attributed to them by participants within a wide personal network of support. The findings point to how consideration might usefully be given to how relationships with companion animals can be incorporated into healthcare planning and delivery.
1468-215X
326-334
Brooks, Helen
0056a0c8-f97a-4215-99e1-652291fcd6eb
Rushton, Kelly
eb3f5279-ef7b-4ba2-9e89-8ba7a52e23ac
Lovell, Karina
5d35b37c-4545-4ba4-a66c-9d94e1e9e780
McNaughton, Rebecca
53c8d23d-c3bb-4930-aa7c-ae5c99c504c6
Rogers, Anne
105eeebc-1899-4850-950e-385a51738eb7
Brooks, Helen
0056a0c8-f97a-4215-99e1-652291fcd6eb
Rushton, Kelly
eb3f5279-ef7b-4ba2-9e89-8ba7a52e23ac
Lovell, Karina
5d35b37c-4545-4ba4-a66c-9d94e1e9e780
McNaughton, Rebecca
53c8d23d-c3bb-4930-aa7c-ae5c99c504c6
Rogers, Anne
105eeebc-1899-4850-950e-385a51738eb7

Brooks, Helen, Rushton, Kelly, Lovell, Karina, McNaughton, Rebecca and Rogers, Anne (2019) ‘He’s my mate you see’: a critical discourse analysis of the therapeutic role of companion animals in the social networks of people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness. Medical Humanities, 45 (3), 326-334. (doi:10.1136/medhum-2018-011633).

Record type: Article

Abstract

There is increasing recognition of the role pets play in the management of mental health conditions. Evidence suggests that pets promote social interaction and provide secure and intimate relationships which support the management of symptoms. This paper aimed to extend this evidence by exploring the phenomenological understanding of relationships and relationality with companion animals as therapeutic agents in the context of people’s wider social networks.

A qualitative study was undertaken incorporating 35 interviews with 12 participants with a diagnosis of severe mental illness who identified a pet as being important in the management of mental health. Participants took part in three in-depth interviews centred on ego network mapping over a 12-month period (baseline, 6 and 12 months). A critical discourse analysis examined therapeutic relationships with pets in relation to mental health and compared these to other types of support over time. Summative discourse analyses were combined with a cross-case thematic analysis to look for commonalities and differences across individuals.

Compared with interactions with other therapeutic agents, relationships with pets were free from the obligations and complexities associated with other types of network members and provided an extension and reinforcement to an individual’s sense of self which militated against the negative experiences associated with mental illness. Relationships with human network members were more variable in terms of consistency and capacity to manage demands (eg, network members requiring support themselves) and the emotions of others associated with fluctuations in mental health.

This study adds weight to research supporting the inclusion of companion animals in the lexicon of mental health self-management through the therapeutic value attributed to them by participants within a wide personal network of support. The findings point to how consideration might usefully be given to how relationships with companion animals can be incorporated into healthcare planning and delivery.

Text
He's my mate you see_ Brooks et al REVISION APRIL 2019 - Accepted Manuscript
Download (126kB)
Text
‘He’s my mate you see’ - Version of Record
Download (279kB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 12 June 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 24 July 2019
Published date: 22 August 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432954
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432954
ISSN: 1468-215X
PURE UUID: 658aa65e-12dc-43ef-87f6-139607203180

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 07:53

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Helen Brooks
Author: Kelly Rushton
Author: Karina Lovell
Author: Rebecca McNaughton
Author: Anne Rogers

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×