Importance: Managing health requires extensive time and effort, especially in the early stages of a new illness. Although important, health management occupations contribute to treatment burden, disrupt engagement in other occupations, and galvanize the incorporation of the illness into identity. This is especially true for young adults after first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Objective: To explore the impact of health management occupations on the social participation of young adults after FEP.
Design: Qualitative study.
Setting: Community with participants from primarily urban environments.
Participants: Five adults between 18 and 30 yr old who experienced FEP within the previous 5 yr. Data collection occurred through semistructured interviews, participant observations, and discourse elicitation.
Outcomes and Measures: Two participant observations per month for 6 mo with 4 study participants; six observations total for a 5th participant.
Results: Health management dominated participants’ occupations immediately after FEP and hindered their social participation as they experienced a liminal space (i.e., transition space) in their life trajectory. Some participants were “stuck” in this space and deferred life goals to focus on illness management, whereas others used the liminal space as a space for growth and transformation.
Conclusions and Relevance: Health management occupations are essential; however, overemphasizing health management can hinder social participation and quality of life. Occupational therapy practitioners can assist clients with moving through liminal spaces after diagnosis by supporting participation beyond mental health treatment environments, helping clients to imagine alternative life trajectories, and finding strategies to reduce overall treatment burden.
What This Article Adds: The concept of liminality holds promise for understanding and supporting health management and social participation after FEP.