Rehabilitation and Recovery of Women with Mental Illness

Reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


Clinical recovery may vary gender-wise across various psychiatric disorders; however, personal recovery is individual specific and a unique process. There are several gender-specific factors that may determine recovery in the context of women with mental illness such as physical abuse, violence, abandonment, homelessness, stigma, and discrimination. Their access to mental health services and legal aid need to improve. Rehabilitative practices are becoming recovery oriented across the world, albeit slowly. These need to be mindful of the rehabilitation needs of women with mental illness. Motherhood, parenting, and work may be important to consider in a rehabilitative plan for women. Consumer movement, peer support, caregiver groups, and nongovernmental agencies will increasingly play a pivotal role in services that are recovery oriented. Gender-sensitive services and practices should be integrated across all levels of rehabilitative care. Institutional, long stay and forensic settings pose unique challenges in rehabilitation of women with mental illness. In this chapter, we examine the influence of these factors on rehabilitation and recovery of women with mental illness. We also briefly provide a case example of policy and legislative changes from a developing country – India – that are important drivers of improving rehabilitative services for women with mental illness.


Recovery Rehabilitation Women Mental illness 


  1. Anthony WA (1993) Recovery from rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: the guiding vision of the mental health service system in the 1990s. Psychosoc Rehabil J 16:11–23Google Scholar
  2. Bassuk EL (1993) Homeless women – economic and social issues: introduction. Am J Orthopsychiatry 63(3):337–339CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker GS (1991) A treatise on the family. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonfils KA, Adams EL, Firmin RL, White LM, Salyers MP (2014) Parenthood and severe rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: relationships with recovery. Psychiatr Rehabil J 37(3):186–193. Scholar
  5. Bonin J, Fournier L, Blais R (2009) A typology of mentally disordered users of resources for homeless people: towards better planning of mental health services. Adm Policy Ment Health Ment Health Serv Res 36(4):223–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Breakey WR, Fischer PJ, Kramer M et al (1989) Health and mental health problems of homeless men and women in Baltimore. JAMA 262(10):1352–1357CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Buckner JC, Bassuk EL, Zima BT (1993) Mental health issues affecting homeless women: implications for intervention. Am J Orthopsychiatry 63(3):385–399CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Carpiniello B, Pinna F, Tusconi M, Zaccheddu E, Fatteri F (2012) Gender differences in remission and recovery of schizophrenic and schizoaffective patients: preliminary results of a prospective cohort study. Schizophr Res Treat 2012:576369Google Scholar
  9. Chandra PS, Carey MP, Carey KB, Shalinianant A, Thomas T (2003) Sexual coercion and abuse among women with a severe mental illness in India: an exploratory investigation. Compr Psychiatry 44(3):205–212. Scholar
  10. Cogan JC (1998) The consumer as expert: women with serious mental illness and their relationship-based needs. Psychiatr Rehabil J 22(2):142–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cook JA (2003) Depression, disability, and rehabilitation services for women. Psychol Women Q 27(2):121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Craig T, Timms P (2000) Facing up to social exclusion: services for homeless mentally ill people. Int Rev Psychiatry 12(3):206–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. David DH, Styron T, Davidson L (2011) Supported parenting to meet the needs and concerns of mothers with severe mental illness. Am J Psychiatr Rehabil 14(2):137–153CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Dean Klinkenberg W, Calsyn RJ (1998) Gender differences in the receipt of aftercare and psychiatric hospitalization among adults with severe mental illness. Compr Psychiatry 39(3):137–142. Scholar
  15. Dickens G, Weleminsky J, Onifade Y, Sugarman P (2012) Recovery star: validating user recovery. Psychiatrist 36(2):45–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dipple H, Smith S, Andrews H, Evans B (2002) The experience of motherhood in women with severe and enduring mental illness. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 37(7):336–340. Scholar
  17. Eklund M, Tjörnstrand C (2013) Psychiatric rehabilitation in community-based day centers: motivation and satisfaction. Scand J Occup Ther 20:438–445CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Farkas M (2007) The vision of recovery today: what it is and what it means for services. World Psychiatry 6:68–74PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferrarini T, Duvander AZ (2010) Earner-carer model at the crossroads: reforms and outcomes of Sweden’s family policy in comparative perspective. Int J Health Serv 40:373–398CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Fistein EC, Holland AJ, Clare IC, Gunn MJ (2009) A comparison of mental health legislation from diverse commonwealth jurisdictions. Int J Law Psychiatry 32(3):147–155. Scholar
  21. Gajendragad JM (2015) Struggles of women with mental illness. IOSR J Humanit Soc Sci 20(4):37–41. e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845. Scholar
  22. Gehart DR (2012) The mental health recovery movement and family therapy, part I: consumer led reform of services to persons diagnosed with severe mental illness. J Marital Fam Ther 38(3):429–442CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Gilbert E, Marwaha S, Milton A, Johnson S, Morant N, Parsons N, Fisher A, Singh S, Cunliffe D (2013) Social firms as a means of vocational recovery for people with rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: a UK survey. BMC Health Serv Res 13(1):270. Scholar
  24. Goodman LA, Dutton MA, Harris M (1995) Episodically homeless women with serious rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: prevalence of physical and sexual assault. Am J Orthopsychiatry 65(4):468–478CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Gururaj G, Varghese M, Benegal V, Rao GN, Pathak K, Singh LK, Mehata RY, Ram D, Shibukumar TM, Koane A, Lenin Singh RK, Chavan BS, Sharma P, Ramasubramanian C, Dalal PK, Saha PK, Deuri SP, Giri AK, Kavishvar AB, Sinha VK, Thavody J, Chatterji R, Akoijam BS, Das S, Kashyap A, Raghavan VS, Singh SK, Misra RM, NMHS Collaborators Group (2015–16) National mental health survey of India, 2015–16: summary, 2016 edn. National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), BengaluruGoogle Scholar
  26. Hanlon C (2017) Next steps for meeting the needs of people with severe mental illness in low- and middle-income countries. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci 26(4):348–354. Scholar
  27. Hurlburt MS (1997) An empirical framework for the evaluation of mental health care strategies targeted to community integration of severely mentally ill homeless individuals (Order no. 9722820). Available from ProQuest dissertations & theses global: the humanities and social sciences collection. (304328346). Retrieved from
  28. India Today (2018) Abuse at Bihar shelter homes: what TISS report says. India Today Webdesk, New Delhi, 6 Aug 2018.
  29. Khan F, Chithiramohan A (2016) Conveyance of mentally ill person from their property: which legislation to use? – Mental Capacity Act (MCA) or Mental Health Act (MHA) or Court of Protection. J Gerontol Geriatr Res 5:297. Scholar
  30. Kidd SA, Virdee G, Krupa T, Burnham D, Hemingway D, Margolin I, Patterson M, Zabkiewicz D (2013) The role of gender in housing for individuals with severe rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: a qualitative study of the Canadian service context. BMJ Open 3.
  31. Killaspy H, White S, Taylor TL, King M (2012) Psychometric properties of the mental health recovery star. Br J Psychiatry 201(1):65–70CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Kumar S, Jeyaseelan L, Suresh S, Ahuja RC (2005) Domestic violence and its mental health correlates in Indian women. Br J Psychiatry 187:62–67. Scholar
  33. Larivière N, Couture É, Blackburn C, Carbonneau M, Lacombe C, Schinck S-A, St-Cyr-Tribble D (2015) Recovery, as experienced by women with borderline personality disorder. Psychiatr Q 86(4):555–568CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lloyd C, Williams PL, Machingura T, Tse S (2016) A focus on recovery: using the mental health recovery star as an outcome measure. Adv Ment Health 14(1):57–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Luo H, McNeil EB, Feng Q, Li H, Chen Q, Qin X, Assanangkornchai S (2018) Utilization of psychiatric rehabilitation services and influencing factors among people with psychotic disorders in rural communities of Guangxi. China. Int J Ment Heal Syst 12:17. Scholar
  36. Mathew S (2016) Gender issues in psychosocial rehabilitation. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 32(1):63–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McPhail ME, Falvo DR, Burker EJ (2012) Psychiatric disorders in incarcerated women: treatment and rehabilitation needs for successful community reentry. J Appl Rehabil Couns 43(1):19–26Google Scholar
  38. Messina N, Calhoun S, Warda U (2012) Gender-responsive drug court treatment: a randomized controlled trial. Crim Justice Behav 39(12):1539–1558. Scholar
  39. Mizock L (2019) Development of a gender-sensitive and recovery-oriented intervention for women with serious mental illness. Psychiatr Rehabil J 42(1):3–8CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Moorkath F, Vranda M, Naveenkumar C (2018) Lives without roots: institutionalized homeless women with chronic mental illness. Indian J Psychol Med 40(5):476–481. Scholar
  41. Mowbray CT, Oyserman D, Bybee D, MacFarlane P, Rueda-Riedle A (2001) Life circumstances of mothers with serious mental illnesses. Psychiatr Rehabil J 25(2):114–123. Scholar
  42. Mowbray CT, Nicholson J, Bellamy CD (2003) Psychosocial rehabilitation service needs of women. Psychiatr Rehabil J 27(2):104–113. Scholar
  43. Murthy P, Naveen Kumar C, Chandra PS, Bharath S, Math SB, Bhola P, Gandhi S, Vranda MN, Jaisoorya TS, Dahale AB, Vishwakarma H, Naaz F, Venkatalakshmi C (2016) Addressing concerns of women admitted to mental hospital in India: an in-depth analysis. National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences/National Commission for Women, Bangalore/New Delhi. Accessed 30 Oct 2018Google Scholar
  44. Nagaswami V, Valecha V, Thara R, Rajkumar S, Menon MS (1985) Rehabilitation needs of schizophrenic patients – a preliminary report. Indian J Psychiatry 27(3):213–220PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Nalini Rao P (2005) Rehabilitation of the wandering seriously mentally ill (WSMI) women. Soc Work Health Care 39(1–2):49–65Google Scholar
  46. Nicholson J, Henry AD (2003) Achieving the goal of evidence-based psychiatric rehabilitation practices for mothers with mental illnesses. Psychiatr Rehabil J 27(2):122–130. Scholar
  47. Noiseux S, Tribble St-Cyr D, Corin E, St-Hilaire PL, Morissette R, Leclerc C, Fleury D, Vigneault L, Gagnier F (2010) The process of recovery of people with Rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: the perspectives of clients, family members and care providers: part 1. BMC Health Serv Res 10(161):1–14Google Scholar
  48. Oyserman D, Mowbray CT, Zemencuk JK (1994) Resources and supports for mothers with severe mental illness. Health Soc Work 19(2):132–142CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Patel V, Araya R, Chatterjee S, Chisholm D et al (2007) Global mental health 3: treatment and prevention of mental disorders in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet 370(9591):991–1005CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Plunkett C, Peters S, Wieck A, Wittkowski A (2017) A qualitative investigation in the role of the baby in recovery from postpartum psychosis. Clin Psychol Psychother 24:1099–1108CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Rathod S, Pinninti N, Irfan M, Gorczynski P, Rathod P, Gega L, Naeem F (2017) Mental health service provision in low- and middle-income countries. Health Serv Insights 10:1178632917694350. Scholar
  52. Ritsher JE, Coursey RD, Farrell EW (1997) A survey on issues in the lives of women with severe mental illness. Psychiatr Serv 48(10):1273–1282. Scholar
  53. Sajatovic M, Donenwirth K, Sultana D, Buckley P (2000) Admissions, length of stay, and medication use among women in an acute care state psychiatric facility. Psychiatr Serv 51(10):1278–1281. Scholar
  54. Schön U-K (2010) Recovery from severe mental illness, a gender perspective. Scand J Caring Sci 24(3):557–564. Scholar
  55. Schön U-K (2013) Recovery in involuntary psychiatric care: is there a gender difference? J Ment Health 22(5):420–427CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Shidhaye R, Kermode M (2013) Stigma and discrimination as a barrier to mental health service utilization in India. Int Health 5(1):6–8. Scholar
  57. Tew J, Ramon S, Slade M, Bird V, Melton J, Le Boutillier C (2011) Social factors and recovery from mental health difficulties: a review of the evidence. Br J Soc Work 42(3):443–460. Scholar
  58. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (2016) Accessed 4 Oct 2018
  59. Thomas TL, Prasad Muliyala K, Jayarajan D, Angothu H, Thirthalli J (2019) Vocational challenges in severe rehabilitation and recovery, psychiatric: a qualitative study in persons with professional degrees. Asian J Psychiatr 42:48–54. Scholar
  60. Thornicroft G, Leese M, Tansella M, Howard L, Toulmin H, Herran A, Schene A (2002) Gender differences in living with schizophrenia. A cross-sectional European multi-site study. Schizophr Res 57(2–3):191–200. Scholar
  61. Townley G, Miller H, Kloos B (2013) A little goes a long way: the impact of distal social support on community integration and recovery of individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Am J Community Psychol 52(1–2):84–96. Scholar
  62. United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association Core Principle (2009) Accessed 10 Oct 2018
  63. US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (2002) USPRA core principles & values. Accessed 20 Sept 2018
  64. Wenzel SL, Koegel P, Gelberg L (2000) Antecedents of physical and sexual victimization among homeless women: a comparison to homeless men. Am J Community Psychol 28(3):367–390CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Whitley R, Harris M, Anglin J (2008) Refuge or rehabilitation? Assessing the development of a women’s empowerment center for people with severe mental illness. Community Ment Health J 44(4):253–260. Scholar
  66. World Health Organization (2010) Gender disparities in mental health. Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  67. World Health Organization(2011) Concept paper World Health Organization guidelines on health-related rehabilitation (Rehabilitation guidelines). Accessed 3 Oct 2018
  68. World Health Organization, Division of Mental Health and Prevention of Substance Abuse (1996) PsychoSocial rehabilitation a consensus statement. Accessed 4 Oct 2018
  69. Young SL, Ensing DS (1999) Exploring recovery from the perspective of people with psychiatric disabilities. Psychiatr Rehabil J 22(3):219–231. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Department of PsychiatryNational Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS)BengaluruIndia

Personalised recommendations