Archive | November, 2010

recovery begins with hope

21 Nov

We launch ‘Recovery Begins with Hope’ in NESTA with the Centre for Mental Health in NESTA – where we hope to have a debate on how to transform mental health services.

Why is recovery so important now ?  Why because  at last in mental health there is a recognition that those who live with the experience of mental distress are the best placed to determine what will help them recover – the role of professionals is changing to one of offering relevant and appropriate support, guidance and opportunities based on the person’s experience. The recovery approach is an advance  because it offers hope as well as  diagnosis and involves a humanizing of personal services and a de-institionalization of practices.

I worked in Highroyds Hospital, in Yorkshire in the 1970s and can still remember ‘locked wards’ and a regime that was not unlike the Gulags, not violent but completely inhuman. Once you were a patient, nothing you said made sense or was taken seriously – because you had become someone categorised as mentally ill. Thousands of people’s lives are still blighted by stigma.

Helen Hutchins, a nurse and bipolar, will be one of the speakers at the launch on the 30th, she says that she feared telling anyone at work about her psychotic episodes – until she embarked on a recovery journey supported by staff in the Devon Partnership. She now not only works as a nurse but also runs her own enterprise called ‘Tea and Talk’.

 Professors Geoff Shepherd and Bob Grove, from the (Sainsbury) Centre for Mental Health will talk about  how ‘recovery principles’ are now being seized by health services around the country with support of a Task Force led by recovery champions;  and how recovery principles are being effectively applied in prisons, employment services and by those working with ex-offenders and substance abusers.

Recovery is not a panacea but it is a useful philosophy that could be applied to almost all personal services aimed at helping people move on or through difficult transition. The question is whether people have the confidence to invest in it?

Like all innovation in public realm – the recovery approach is not rocket science and makes complete sense – the issue is why as a society we  are slow to value people and their potential – this is not just a matter of the public services being slow to change and risk averse (although  true) because many charities and private services also fail to respect people, both staff and service users.  remote policy-making and professionalism has led to a fear of relating to personal experience and a fear of blurring the boundaries between service provider and service recipient. As soon as you listen and get  involved, – people become people and the boundaries melt………………………….

‘Recovery Begins with Hope’ launch and debate in NESTA  1 Plough Lane, EC3A 1DE at 4.30- 6.30- email if you’d like to come or would like a hard copy of the report