Mental health trusts should look to recruit people with experience of using services as part of measures to focus care on recovery, according to a paper published today by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.
Implementing Recovery: A new framework for organisational change also says that trusts should look to help users gain and sustain mainstream work rather than simply provide “meaningful, but segregated occupation and social support”.
The paper sets out 10 major challenges for mental health services to implement recovery – which involves encouraging service users to take control of their own lives and their care rather than be passive recipients of services.
Recovery Education Unit
A key idea is for every mental health trust to set up a “recovery education unit” to train and support people who have suffered from mental illness to tell their stories to other service users and become “peer professionals”.
Over time the paper suggests that up to 50% of mental health care could be delivered by peer professionals, with existing professional staff working alongside them.
It also highlights work carried out by some trusts in helping users find full-time paid work, stressing its importance in promoting inclusion in the community, improving service users’ self-esteem and providing better value for money than day centres.
Culture change urged
One of the report’s authors, Sainsbury Centre policy advisor Professor Geoff Shepherd, said: “Implementing recovery requires a major transformation in the culture of mental health services. It means supporting people to take much greater control over the way that they are treated. It means challenging stigma and discrimination much more assertively in communities.”
The report comes with the government due to issue a strategy paper this autumn on mental health and employment issues. Ministers are also still consulting on their draft New Horizons strategy on the future of mental health in England.