Research, recovery and mental health: challenges and opportunities

Published date08 August 2016
Date08 August 2016
AuthorPadraig Collins,Sarah Crowe
Research, recovery and mental health:
challenges and opportunities
Padraig Collins and Sarah Crowe
Padraig Collins is a Clinical
Psychologist and Sarah Crowe
is an Assistant Psychologist,
both at the Psychology
Department, Health Services
Executive West, Roscommon,
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the limitations of the current research paradigm in mental
health, particularly from a recovery perspective, and to suggest an alternative approach to clinical research
which may be more in line with recovery principles.
Design/methodology/approach The paper will first review the dominant research methodology utilised
by the mental health disciplines, discussing some of the limitations of this approach, particularly from a
recovery perspective. Existing research methodologies which embody recovery principles will then be
outlined, before an alternative, more recovery-oriented, approach to research is discussed.
Findings The findings from this paper suggest that the current research paradigm utilised by the mental
health disciplines may not be producing the most optimal results, and that a more recovery-oriented
approach could help add to the value of this research, while also involving service users and their carers in the
research process in a more meaningful way.
Research limitations/implications This paper will explore possibilities for undertaking recovery-informed
research, which has implications, not only for researchers, service users and their families, but also for the
practice of mental health disciplines more broadly.
Originality/value This paper will introduce a critique of traditional research methodology in mental health
and will present an alternative recovery-oriented approach which could help to overcome some of the
limitations of the more traditional approach.
Keywords Research, Research methodologies, Mental health, Recovery, Service user, Clinical
Paper type Conceptual Paper
Effortsto demonstratethe validity and effectiveness of interventionsin mental health havehistorically
used traditional research paradigms. The development of such paradigms has predominately
involved academics and health professionals, commonly with limited to no involvement of those
who avail of the interventions and those who support them (e.g. family members). The recovery
movement in mental health has, in contrast, highlighted the importance and value of developing
partnerships, at all levels of service provision, between those who provide and those who use
mental health services. The nature of the research unde rtaken in the mental health disciplines, its
interpretation and its use, may benefit from an examination from this perspective.
The traditional research paradigm in mental health
The traditional research paradigm utilised by the mental health disciplines (nursing, psychology,
psychiatry, occupational therapy, social work) is centred on positivist values such as objectivity,
neutrality and distance, with the aim of achieving a rigorous and scientific methodology. This
paradigm views meta-analyses, systematic reviews and randomised control trials as the gold
VOL. 20 NO. 3 2016, pp. 174-179, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308 DOI 10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0010

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