- Clinical recovery
- Personal recovery
- Transforming mental health services
- Peer professionals
- Government support
When we talk about clinical recovery, we are talking about being able to function normally in society without having mental health symptoms. When medical professionals like doctors talk about recovery, they are often referring to clinical recovery – they are focused on getting rid of mental health symptoms.
Recovery is more than just clinical, however, there is something called ‘personal recovery’ too.
Personal recovery means that not only do you not have symptoms of a mental health condition, but you can have a meaningful life. It is about having life goals to work towards achieving.
Through personal recovery, people get closer to where they want to be. Someone might, for example, want to achieve a better social life or have hope for their future in terms of their goals, roles, outlook or skills.
Personal recovery is personal and individual and incorporates a whole process of changing one’s mindset, attitudes, feelings or values. Recovering in this way is all about having a life that is satisfying.
For a long time, mental health was severely ignored as an issue and its treatment was underfunded and somewhat neglected. Not that long ago, people who had mental health problems were not seen in society, they were simply hidden away in asylums. The treatment people received was horrendous. Nowadays, we would think it inhumane. What’s more, discrimination and stigma were rife.
Thankfully, attitudes are much improved these days, although there is still a lot of work to be done. Campaigns like Heads Together and Time to Change have done a lot to help. There is also a lot of recognition from politicians too as people are recognising that things need to change and voices are being heard.
Although the asylum closures were a radical change and a positive step in the right direction, we still need a similar scale of transformation for mental health to be regarded in a similar way to physical health.
The biggest programme challenging the stigma of mental health is Time to Change. This is a joint campaign by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind. It is the first of its kind worldwide and shows just how people can change their views and behaviours towards those who have mental health conditions and problems. It has to be said, though, that it will take at least a generation for things to properly be embedded.
Peer professionals have existed for many services for a while now. Peer support has many forms. It can be as informal as the sharing of experiences or can be more formal in paid roles.
The formalised peer roles mean that people who have experience of mental health problems are employed to work with others. This is a place where there is heaps of potential for growth.
Peer professionals are really effective in providing support for issues that are central to recovery. For example, empowerment of individuals, social inclusion and, importantly, hope.
Peer support means that there is less of an ‘us and them’ attitude between the services and the patients. They help individuals focus on recovery and help to reduce the stigma that comes with having mental health problems.
Often, peer support is mutual whereby people with similar conditions and illnesses offer support to each other. It is a support that is emotional but one that is coupled with experience. It means that peer professionals become a part of the solution towards mental health problems, particularly those in formalised, paid roles. Peer professionals are not a replacement for other roles, they are a complement to existing professional services.
With peer support, individuals can see themselves in a positive light. They can focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. They begin to see themselves as a whole person, like their peer supporter in front of them, and not just as a problem or an illness. Peer professionals, therefore, help to promote coping mechanisms and resilience.
Peer support takes on many forms. Peer professionals:
- Work on a one-to-one basis
- Support people as they transition from inpatient to home or from hospital to community or community to employment
- Improve links in communities, granting people access to activities and opportunities local to them that will help to improve wellbeing
- Facilitate education including self-help groups
- Support people who use self-management techniques like WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plans)
There is a range of government support for mental health conditions and recovery.
Mental health conditions can be considered as a disability if they have an effect on your day-to-day activities for a long duration. This is when a condition is likely to last around one year. When we talk of normal day-to-day activities, we mean things like working, interacting with others or even using a computer.
When people have mental health conditions that are classed as a disability, they can get support from their employer at work.
The following conditions can often be a disability:
- Bipolar disorder
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Government help in recovery
The government recognises that work is good for mental wellbeing and mental health and it values the role that work plays in aiding recovery, even for those with the most severe types of mental illness.
Employment and health services work together to make sure people have stability in their employment. The support is tailored to individual needs. Employers shouldn’t have doubts about employing people who have mental health conditions.
The government has a strategy in England under the name “No health without mental health”. One of its objectives is for more people to recover from mental health problems so that they have a better quality of life, a great ability in managing their own life, stronger relationships, improved sense of purpose and an increase in skills for working and living. They also promote choice in care and anti-stigma.
The government’s concept of recovery is that individuals are provided with the support that they need to build their lives however they want to, whether their mental health symptoms remain or not.