Recovery begins with hope

16 Nov 2010 by Karl Hallam

No, this is not a story about coming out of recession. It is about a project that Cadence Works Director Sophy Hallam has been working on for the last year. Its about the Recovery process in relation to people experiencing mental distress. Sophy has written 500 words to mark the final report which will be published later this month.

The work was done in conjunction with now defunct Whitehall Innovation Hub and its ex-Director Su Maddock. Here are Sophy's words:

What is recovery begins with hope about? Why is it important?

The publication describes how two mental health trusts are changing the way they relate to those who use their services. As a result of their relationship with them, both Trusts want those they treat to feel a greater sense of hope about their future, more control over their treatment and their lives, and some excitement about opportunities offered to them by their future.

Why is this important?

These practical case studies illustrate how two large, public sector organisations, facing deeply embedded problems of limited supply in the face of rapidly increasing demand, and managing the impact of successive waves of public sector reform, are nonetheless aiming to offer more - not less - to those they treat.
The approach described in these case studies also shows how offering services which are more personalised, and opening up opportunities for individuals and organisations in their local communities to influence, shape and contribute to, local service provision is helping, rather than hindering, them to realise their ambitions.
And in setting out to distribute the responsibility for care more equally between the professional experts and those who have an expertise through their lived experience, these examples also illustrate how these Trusts have understood that Big Society thinking offers them a very real opportunity to improve what they do.
The publication is important because it offers examples which are relevant to many large public sector organisations in time of shrinking resources, increasing demand and increasing expectations on public services to work in a closer partnership with the public.
But the true importance for this publication lies with those who are experiencing the life changing - sometimes life threatening - disorientating and distressing effects of mental ill health.
One lady interviewed as part of the research for this publication stands out. She described how her life as a former management consultant ground to a halt when she had a breakdown following traumatic cancer treatment. With her former hat on she logged what was happening to her as, during a period of her greatest distress, she was passed between 19 different mental health professionals without receiving help or treatment from any of them. The conversations revolved around the systems needs - who's responsibility she was - not hers.
Her story illustrated the personal impact of chronic bad administration, lost letters, long waits for appointments and apparent disconnection between services.
The real importance of this publication lies in the hope it offers that mental health services can do better, and that some of them already are.

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