Our Views

Blog #6  Recovery ignores the socio-political context

As for recovery ignoring the individual’s social, political and cultural context, this is a travesty. Supporting individual recovery is, at its heart, essentially a social process (see Mary O’Hagan and many others). And, since most peoples’ personal recovery goals revolve around having somewhere decent to live, something meaningful to do, feeling a part of your community and having supportive, personal relationships, then it must have primarily social, not therapeutic, goals. Even the Department of Health defines recovery in social terms, “More people who develop mental health problems will have a good quality of life – greater ability to manage their own lives, stronger social relationships, a greater sense of purpose, the skills they need for living and working, improved chances in education, better employment rates and a suitable and stable place to live” (Objective ii. in ‘No Health without Mental Health’, 2011).

It is therefore just plainly wrong to suggest that supporting recovery locates all the problems within the person and is ‘apolitical’ in that sense. The reverse is true. Supporting recovery is about explicitly trying to ensure that people with long-term mental health difficulties have access to the same range of social opportunities for good housing, good employment and social support that everyone else has by encouraging ‘hope’, ‘control’ and ‘opportunity’ in their lives Repper & Perkins, 2003). It is clear that people with mental health problems are often specifically disadvantaged in this struggle and we have argued repeatedly it is therefore important to ensure that services give these areas their first priority.