Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

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The interconnection between mental health, work and belonging: A phenomenological investigation

Olav Tangvald-Pedersen, Rob Bongaardt


It is well-known that a sense of belonging is crucial in relation to gaining and  maintaining sound mental health. Work is also known to be an essential aspect of recovery from mental health problems. However, there is scant knowledge of what a sense of belonging in the workplace represents. This study explores the nature and meaning of a sense of belonging in the workplace as experienced by persons  struggling with mental health issues.

Using a descriptive phenomenological methodology, sixteen descriptions of the lived experience of belonging in the workplace were analyzed. The analysis reveals that the experience of belonging in the workplace is restricted and fragile until the moment one becomes accepted, but grows stronger and more resilient as one chooses how one wants to participate. Nonetheless, the sense of belonging is haunted by mixed emotions and ambivalence between the wish to be taken care of and the longing for professional appreciation.
AJOL African Journals Online