Service Providers Perspectives on Personal Recovery from Severe Mental Illness in Cape Town, South Africa: A Qualitative Study

Community Ment Health J. 2022 Jul;58(5):955-966. doi: 10.1007/s10597-021-00904-8. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Severe mental illnesses (SMI) contribute significantly to the global burden of disease. In low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs), the treatment gap impacts the clinical and personal recovery of people living with an SMI. The drive to reduce this treatment gap in LMICs makes it pertinent to understand service providers' views on recovery from SMI. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with service providers from health services and non-profit organisations in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, were conducted in this qualitative study. Seventeen participants were purposively selected, and data were thematically analysed. Three major themes emerged: delineating recovery, available services supporting recovery from SMI, and facilitators and barriers to recovery at the service level. Health services favoured clinical over personal recovery. Participants thought that many service users' personal recovery from SMI was hindered by intersecting social, economic, cultural, and political inequalities that extended beyond the influence of the health sector.

Keywords: Low-and-middle-income countries; Recovery; Service providers; Severe mental illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Qualitative Research
  • South Africa