Research watch: what really helps recovery in relation to severe mental health difficulties?

Published date03 January 2020
Date03 January 2020
AuthorSue Holttum
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Mental health,Social inclusion
Research watch: what really helps
recovery in relation to severe
mental health difficulties?
Sue Holttum
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine three recent papers on mental health services and how
they support recovery following a diagnosis of a severe mental health condition.
Design/methodology/approach A search was carried out for recent papers on mental health and
recovery. The author selected three papers that seemed to advance understanding of not only whether, but
also how recovery of a meaningful life may be best supported in mental health services.
Findings One paper suggested how staff were able to support service userspersonal goals and focus on
recovery in acute inpatient settings, and what got in the way. The author suggests practical ways to address
the barriers. A second paper reported the testing of a new model for supporting staff in primary and
secondary care to work together so that service users with a diagnosis of bipolar or schizophrenia were better
supported to work towards valued goals. A third paper reviewed 40 studies of how people can experience
positive change after a first diagnosis of psychosis, and how change happened.
Originality/value By studying the issues in detail, all three papers show how improved support for
recovery and inclusion can be implemented against the backdrop of many years of service shortcomings.
Keywords Mental health, Personalization, Social inclusion, Recovery
Paper type Viewpoint
In this paper, I look at three recent articles about what works in terms of supporting recovery in the
context of severe mental health difficulties. None of them pretend it is easy but they show what can
happen. Coffey et al. (2019) look at acute inpatient wards, Baker et al. (2019) try out a new model for
joined-up care across general practice and secondary mental health services, and Jordan et al. (2018)
review 40 studies of how people experience positive change after a first diagnosis of psychosis.
What helps recovery in inpatient mental health care?
Coffey et al. (2019) point to differences between the English and Welsh mental health systems:
The Care Programme Approach in England entails guidance to include a focus on recovery and
to take a personalised approach. This means not just reducing symptomsbut also supporting
service users to have a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to them. Personalisation means service
users and those close to them having more control and being equal partners to professionals.
In the Welsh system, care and treatment plans (CTPs) have similar aims but they also come
with legal obligations(Coffey et al., 2019, p. 2) to include recovery and personalisation.
Coffey et al. (2019) set out to examine what helps and hinders the application of a recovery focus
and collaborative and personalised care in acute inpatient wards in England and Wales.
Research methods for studying wards
Coffey et al. (2019) included four English NHS trusts and two Welsh local health boards. There
were 19 acute wards in a range of geographical locations from rural to urban and inner city. In a
Sue Holttum is based at
Salomons Institute for Applied
Psychology, Canterbury Christ
Church University,
Canterbury, UK.
VOL. 24 NO. 1 2020, pp. 6-12, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308 DOI 10.1108/MHSI-11-2019-0037

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