The term ‘recovery’ has been used in mental health services for many years and the concept has been adapted by many different people and organisations over time. The recovery model isn’t easy to define, but the principles are about trying to ensure that mental health services are focussed on an individual’s hopes and aspirations, rather than being focussed on a person’s symptoms.
The idea that someone with a mental health problem can experience ‘recovery’ is now more commonly accepted. Historically, to ‘recover’ has been interpreted as the person being free of symptoms, or being restored to their former level of health. Now, the focus is more about coping with difficulties and experiencing a good quality of life.
The concept of recovery was central to developing a different way of thinking about how best to support service users, with services that are recovery-focussed being directed by the service user (and their family) towards achieving personal goals, reaching aspirations, developing relationships and leading a fulfilling life, while at the same time coping with symptoms.
The recovery model is about fostering a sense of hope for the service user and supporting the service user to develop a sense of control over their lives. Services aim to be ‘doing with’ rather than ‘doing to’ or ‘doing for’.
Recovery is described as a journey that someone goes through, with ups and downs, gaining experience and skills along the way and adjusting positively to the challenges that people may face in life. It requires a service to be optimistic and not centred around dealing with problems, but looking more at playing a part in supporting people to lead meaningful lives.
So, the recovery model is embedded into most mental health policies and in the Department of Health’s efforts to improve services. While the model itself is broadly and loosely defined, it is very much about services being driven by the hopes and ambitions of service users, rather than on a definition of illness based on levels of symptoms.
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The Outcomes Star looks at 10 different aspects of someone’s life, and guides the person to get a sense of how well they are achieving in each aspect. These are issues such as, ‘managing mental health’, ‘social networks’ and ‘identity and self-esteem’. This can then help the individual to acknowledge that there could be some developments in specific areas, and to focus on developing and growing in a particular aspect of their life, rather than exploring how to get well in a less-focussed manner.
The Mental Health Foundation has some useful and informative pages on the recovery model.
Rethink’s website has some useful pages about recovery, with testimonials from services users about how different aspects of recovery created positive change in their lives.
Closing the Gap: ‘Priorities for essential change in mental health’ (Department of Health document) has a number of priorities for improving mental health, the first of which states: High-quality mental health services with an emphasis on recovery should be commissioned in all areas, reflecting local need.
The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health website has a wide range of useful recovery material
ImROC (Implementing Recovery Through Organisational Change) Briefing number 10. Published September 2014 by Centre for Mental Health Network, NHS Confederation 2014. Written by Gerard Drennan and James Wooldridge together with Anne Aiyegbusi, Debbie Alred, Joe Ayres, Richard Barker, Sally Carr, Helen Eunson, Hilary Lomas, Estelle Moore, Debbie Stanton & Geoff Shepherd.
Recovery to Practice: Bridging People, Knowledge, Tools and Experience A website about Recovery produced by the American organisation SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Other useful documents hosted on this site include:
Recovery or Discovery? (26.0 KiB)– A paper by Julie Repper (2005)
Making Recovery A Reality (454.0 KiB)– Policy Paper – Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health; G.Shepherd, J Boardman & M Slade (2008)