Extract from Openmind 115, May/Jun 2002
Q. I am a mental health worker and would like to find out more about the recovery model of working with people for mental health problems. Have you got any information about it?
A. We have a working definition of Recovery which comes from the National Institute of Mental Health in America. It says Recovery is: "The uniquely personal and ongoing act of claiming and gaining the capacity to take control of life that is personally meaningful and satisfying, with opportunities to perceive her/himself as a valued citizen. The person may develop and use their self-determination to grow beyond and thrive, despite the presence of the limitations and challenges invited and imposed by distress, its treatment and the personal and environmental understandings made of them." The recovery 'model' requires a change of approach on the part of both the professionals and the service users. Service users have to be prepared to step out of the 'sick role' and start to regard themselves as autonomous people with the capacity to come through a period of mental distress and develop their individuality, self awareness and self acceptance. Professionals need also to look at people's potential, and to stop being managers and start being facilitators. They need to start looking first at people's potential for development rather than at how their mental distress may restrict their lives. The Recovery approach aims to see service users holistically, as complete people who have the capacity to cope with their distress in such a way that they are able to participate in a full life, developing self esteem and self determination, and including, for example, being allowed to make their own mistakes and learn from them - just as the majority of people do in our society. It aims to focus on identifying realistic life goals for service users and enabling them to achieve them. There is a helpful workbook designed primarily for service users on using the recovery model.
Working to Recovery: Victim to Victor III, A Guide to Mental Wellbeing, Ron Coleman, Paul Baker and Karen Taylor, Handsell Publishing 2000.