• “Sex isn’t everything”: views of people with experience of psychosis on intimate relationships and implications for mental health services

      White, Rebecca; email: rebecca.white@manchester.ac.uk; Haddock, Gillian; Varese, Filippo; Haarmans, Maria (BioMed Central, 2021-06-14)
      Abstract: Background: The experience of psychosis and associated discrimination can be a barrier to forming and maintaining romantic relationships. Sexual health interventions within mental health services often focus on contraception and reducing risk. There are no known studies that seek to understand what support, if any, people who experience psychosis want regarding psychosocial aspects of intimate relationships. Methods: To address this gap in the literature, qualitative data was collected to investigate how people with experience of psychosis conceptualise romantic relationships and what support they would like in this area of their lives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 mental health service users (four women, six men) with experience of psychosis. Interviews were analysed from a critical realist social constructionism perspective using thematic analysis. Results: Stigma was a prominent theme, described as impacting numerous aspects of romantic relationships. Power imbalance within services meant participants were wary of having conversations about relationships with professionals and identified a therapeutic alliance as a prerequisite. However, abusive relationships were highlighted as a needed area for support by services. Conclusion: Services should be trauma-informed and help those in abusive relationships. The power and autonomy of people with experience of psychosis should be maintained in any discussions or interventions regarding intimate relationships. A strong therapeutic alliance is essential for any work in this area.