Experiencing Mental Illness: Suffering, Hope, and Healing

Narrat Inq Bioeth. 2021;11(2):189-194. doi: 10.1353/nib.2021.0070.


The experience of mental illness can be painful and isolating for those suffering in silence. Early symptoms frequently are confusing and disorienting for individuals and families, and stigma towards mental illness in societies across the globe contributes to further isolation from sources of support during the healing process. The evocative personal stories from a variety of cultures in this symposium provide a window into universal elements of the experience of mental illness, with the accompanying fear, shame, and stigma. The stories effectively illustrate the tension between personal autonomy and reliance on others, and the importance of trust in self and others in forming and maintaining a core identity. The stories also sensitively highlight the importance of resilience and persistence in the healing process, along with the essential role of social relationships and support from family, friends, and healers in building a stable identity and hope for the future.

MeSH terms

  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Social Stigma