Decades after deinstitutionalization, individuals living with serious mental illnesses remain isolated, socially disengaged, and devalued members of communities. Burgeoning research and services need conceptual clarity to improve such social conditions. This qualitative inquiry used grounded theory and participatory approaches to conduct an in‐depth exploration of community participation for individuals living with serious mental illnesses based on key stakeholder perspectives (n = 45). Results revealed that community participation is a multifaceted construct with layers of meaning for individuals living with serious mental illnesses. Overarching themes are contextualized in Self‐Determination Theory and presented with deidentified illustrations. Implications for services, research, and policy are discussed.