Connection and recovery in the COVID-19 age: An analysis of changes in goal-setting throughout the pandemic by consumers living with enduring mental illness

Publication Name

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing


Goal-setting is a tool that empowers consumer recovery. Though the pandemic has affected consumer goal-setting, the nature and extent of this impact have not been examined in a recovery setting. The aim of this study is to assess whether the recovery goals of individuals with serious mental illness changed in association with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this mixed-methods design, data were collected from a purposeful sample of consumers (nTOTAL = 355) aged 19–67 years (MAGE = 44.56, SD = 13.05) attending Recovery Camp, a 5-day therapeutic-recreation programme for individuals living with severe mental illness (e.g., PTSD, schizophrenia). Consumer-set goals were examined across 5 programmes prior to March 2020 (nPRE = 126) and 11 following (nPOST = 229). Goals were set on day one, with attainment self-scored on day five. Chi-squared goodness-of-fit tests compared goal proportions per domain; tests of independence assessed changes in goals pre- and post-pandemic. Six goal domains were identified: Approach-Based Recovery, Avoidance-based Recovery, Novel Physical Activities, Relationships, Health, and Recreation/Relaxation. Irrespective of the pandemic, goal attainment was consistently high across all programmes (86.56%). Approach-based Recovery goals were predominant pre-pandemic, but were significantly reduced post-pandemic (p = 0.040). Goals related to Relationships and Novel Physical Activities took precedence throughout the pandemic. Post-COVID-19, consumer recovery goals reveal increased desire for connection, novelty-seeking, and positive behavioural change.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



Link to publisher version (DOI)