The Lived Experience of Koreans With Mental Illness
Methods: This qualitative study takes a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to describe a phenomenon as a lived experience and explores the meaning of people ascribing to lived experiences with respect to the phenomenon. Semi-structured interviews with nine participants were conducted to examine the vicious circle of sorrow facing individuals with mental illness. This study was conducted at a clubhouse, and for the participants, volunteers who were able to engage in a proper conversation with the researcher were recruited. In addition, data were collected by actively participating in the clubhouse’s unit activities twice a week; teaching English at the clubhouse once a week; and participating in two weekend programs. Each interview consisted of two parts and lasted 60 to 90 minutes. In the first part, the participants provided general information on their personal background, including their age and education level and the length of their mental illness. In the second part, they described their lived experience at the clubhouse.
Results: After the interviews with the nine participants, the transcripts were reviewed numerous times. This provided three main themes and nine subthemes. Further, 23 out of 132 meaning units were generalized as relevant sentences. The main themes were “entering a haven,” “living in a haven,” and “having a haven-like hometown.” The participants first joined the clubhouse (“entering a haven”) and then engaged in clubhouse life (“living in a haven”). Finally, through this experience, they came to understand the true meaning of a haven. That is, it became the comforting “hometown” in their hearts (“having a haven-like hometown”).
Implications: The results of the study indicated that the participants had a broad range of perspectives on mental rehabilitation, including their recognition that rehabilitation was something more than holding a regular job; their acceptance of their illness, situations, and limitations; and their desire for a meaningful and fulfilling life within the clubhouse. The results contributed to a better understanding of the lived experience of individuals with mental illness in the context of a clubhouse and their extended rehabilitation and provided important implications for social work professionals.