Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

If You Knew the End of the Story, Would You Still Want to Hear It?: The Importance of Narrative Time for Mental Health Care

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

If You Knew the End of the Story, Would You Still Want to Hear It?: The Importance of Narrative Time for Mental Health Care

Article excerpt

The origins of this paper lie in the experience of having heard too

many stories with the same outcome or ending in the field of inquiry and practice called "Aboriginal Mental Health." This story-ending is one we actively and deliberately choose not to inscribe, give voice or story in this paper. It is through the deliberate absenting of this story that its presence is (being) made apparent. The purpose for conducting the research projects that led to the creation of this paper was primarily to hear (or be able to hear), and to privilege, other outcomes and story endings in Aboriginal mental health care and research. In this way this paper is an active attempt to re-story, or reframe, through poetic inquiry, those outcomes that are more commonly presented in stories of Aboriginal mental health care and research. The significance of doing this, that is, of (re)presenting research poetically, lies within the eye of the beholder, the audience, the reader or the readers' response (Rosenblatt, 1994).

The Story and story endings our inquiries sought, relates to the word [Recovery]. This word is increasingly being used to inscribe mental health care, research, policy and reform. While there are many definitions for "Recovery," (see for example Roberts & Boardman, 2013) here we use the term more generally to refer to the journeys that people take through, and with, ongoing experiences of mental illness and mental health care, and the ways life is lived well with these experiences.

The poem/s presented in this article draw on a series of conversations with Aboriginal people all with years of experience in receiving, providing and advocating Aboriginal mental health care. The main point of this particular article is to highlight that time, particularly narrative time is approached in different ways across cultures and that this has considerable implications for those who provide and receive mental health care. The moral and clinical point we are bringing forward here relates to the responsibility for clinicians to acknowledge and commit themselves to dealing with these types of differences in their practice and professional development. As an aspiration and rationale, empathic participation or wanting to share what we and others "see" (experience, know, or believe to be true) is a defining quality of being human and a fundamental feature of storytelling, research and poetic inquiry.

Starting with these somewhat vague assertions is deliberate, because it is Storying (as a methodological approach), and how Stories are heard, that forms the focus or centre around which this story revolves. What this means is that the word Story is used here to refer to both the research objective and its subject. As such, Story is approached as the research aim (that is, it aims to create a Story) and Story is also its' topic (that is, the focus of the research are stories of Aboriginal Australian (1) experiences of recovery and mental health care). Storytelling and writing are approached as methods for research and an outcome of inquiry; and poetry is used in, and as, a storytelling and writing strategy.

An overview of poetic inquiry is provided, and supported by a poem, this paper illustrates a poetic approach towards the research topic--stories of recovery in Aboriginal Mental Health Care in NQ. A description of how poetic methods were employed to suspend preconceptions of Aboriginality, mental illness and recovery, and to make visible the unique and multiple viewpoints of the people who inspired our inquiry. The significance of inquiring this way lies in the readers' response and within its aspirations to bring forward alternate or counter stories in Aboriginal mental health care and research. It also lies in the way poetry draws attention to the way storytelling traditionally unfolds in research and in mental health care. In doing so it highlights the role of narrative time in professional development and in practice. …

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