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Mental Health Recovery


Mental Health Recovery Is a FACT, even though Mental Health Recovery as a concept is still unheard of in many parts of the world. Recovery is a journey of healing and transformation for a person with mental health problems and the process of mental health recovery is complex and is different for each individual.

“Recovery is a process not a place. It is about recovering what was lost: rights, roles, responsibilities, decisions, potential and support. It is not about symptom elimination, but about what an individual wants, how s/he can get there and how others can help/support them to get there. It is about rekindling hope for a productive present and a rewarding future – And believing that one deserves it. Recovery involves people having a personal vision of the life they want to live, seeing and changing patterns, discovering symptoms can be managed and doing it, finding new ways and reasons, doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Recovery is about reclaiming the roles of a “healthy” rather than a “sick” person. Recovery is about getting there” – Laurie Curtis (1998).

As has been observed for many years, the primary key to mental health recovery has been the individual's own desire for such a recovery. The Recovery Model stimulates, harnesses and supports this desire.

The Mental Health Recovery Model of care focuses on the person, not the symptoms or the illness. Instead of the narrow medical model, there is presented a model for psychosocial rehabilitation. Since first presented, professionals from all four corners of the globe have begun to express interest in this alternative model for mental health recovery: - A dream come true, a non-pathological, holistic approach for recovery. Surely all mental health care systems will adopt this model.

For many clients, an important part of mental health recovery is sharing experiences and coping-strategies and Recovery Groups can provide a forum for this. If professionals want to set up such groups they must be prepared to take part as an equal member and must be prepared to relax some personal boundaries, within the rules of confidentiality of the group.

The role of employment in mental health recovery is now becoming widely recognised and, providing the basic learning skills and confidence to go on to employment or further education should be regarded as a high priority. Basic Maths, English and IT skills have become a modern day necessity.

During an individual’s Recovery journey s/he will need to implement their own personal recovery tools. Use of such recovery tools will enhance wellness, enable empowerment and provide competency for recovery and for maintaining their ongoing wellness.

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland. It is a major wellness planning tool which will enable individual users to identify their own personal wellness resources (wellness toolbox) as well as identifying individual’s triggers, early warning signs and “relapse signatures”, thus giving a means to monitor and manage problems, symptoms and life in general, as well as giving the opportunity to write advanced directives in case of a future, major relapse.

The adoption of Mental Health Recovery and the use of WRAPs should transform many Mental Health Systems - and not before time! Comprehensive training of mental health staff is essential to implement the Recovery model and to assist consumers in creating and applying their Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAPs).

In many ways this may be looked on as a recovery of the Mental Health Services. Hopefully this will allow many professionals to undergo a recovery of the dreams and ideals they had when they first came into the services and provide them with a new vitality to put them into practice.

To conclude, while Mental Health Recovery is a compex journey and is different for each individual, it remains possible for anyone with the right information, desire and supports to achieve it. The goal of Recovery is a full integration into all aspects of community life. The individual may still experience symptoms but will have the tools to manage these and manage life in general within the community, in much the same way that many a diabetic can manage their symptoms and lifestyle without the need to be a hospital patient.

Such Social Inclusion may also require further education of some sectors of our community, regarding mental illness and wellness, to reduce the amount of stigma that can, still, impede an individual’s progress. However such education is likely to be of lasting benefit to the community as a whole, by promoting mental wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

Submitted by:

Dave Baron

Dave Baron, ex-service user and volunteer for Dorset Health Care Trust, is involved in a number of Recovery Groups, provides IT skills training and is web-master for the CRS Service Users site at http://www.recovery-dorset.org.uk.





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