Department of Health

Recovery-oriented practice in mental health

Key messages

  • Recovery-oriented practice is a core component of ongoing health care reforms that emphasises the personal journey of people with mental illness.
  • Both organisations and individuals must reorient themselves towards recovery oriented practice.

All Victorian specialist mental health services use the Framework for recovery-oriented practice to embed the principles of recovery in their work. The principles are based on nine domains for recovery-oriented practice.

Recovery in mental health

Recovery refers to a unique personal experience, process or journey that is defined and led by each person with a mental illness.

It is owned by, and unique to, the person. The role of mental health services is to create an environment that supports and does not impede people’s recovery efforts.

Research to inform recovery-oriented practice

Recovery is a core component of ongoing policy reforms in the mental health service system, in Victoria and nationally.

A policy analysis, literature review and stakeholder consultation informed the development of the guidelines for recovery-oriented practice.

Recovery-oriented practice for organisations

Important components of recovery-oriented practice at the organisational level include the following:

  • All management processes consider recovery-oriented practice. This includes recruitment, professional development, supervision, appraisal, audit, service planning and operational policies.
  • Practice allows a degree of risk tolerance to encourage people’s choices, balanced with duty-of-care obligations.
  • Practice includes routine documentation of people’s preferences, ambitions, resources and support networks.
  • Practice provides people with different kinds of information about rights, complaint processes, treatment options, advocacy support options and access to records
  • People with lived experience and their significant others participate in processes such as recruitment, education, training and development, and quality-improvement activities.
  • Mental health services respond to people’s feedback; for example, through using outcome measures, surveys, quality audits, complaints, service planning and evaluation activities and training led by people with lived experience.
  • Mental health services provide evidence-based interventions to achieve the best outcomes for people’s mental health and wellbeing.
  • Partnerships between the service, people accessing services and their significant others are fostered; also those between different service providers for integrated and coordinated care; and with the community to aid social inclusion of people in communities of their choosing.

Recovery-oriented practice for individuals

Important components of recovery-oriented practice at the individual level include the following:

  • Promote collaborative relationships to foster understanding of each person’s strengths, wishes and opportunities.
  • Respond to the particular strengths, preferences, concerns, needs, goals and values of individuals.
  • Respond to the things, people, activities and roles that people identify as important to their wellbeing and recovery, and minimise the impact of mental health care on these things.
  • Promote decision making led by people with a mental illness, in accordance with each person’s values, needs, circumstances and resources.
  • Demonstrate empathy and resourcefulness in communicating with and responding to people.
  • Actively challenge stigmatising attitudes within the service and the broader community.
  • Use people’s existing support networks.
  • Use interventions that promote people’s personal agency, self-esteem and overall wellness.
  • Use active listening and respond to people’s views, understandings of their experiences and advice on what they find helpful.
  • Use person-centred and optimistic language that promotes hopefulness.
  • Use practice that responds to gender, sexuality, culture, family and community.

Domains for recovery-oriented practice in Victorian mental health services

The framework uses nine domains to structure guidance for specialist mental health services:

  • promoting a culture of hope
  • promoting autonomy and self-determination
  • collaborative partnerships and meaningful engagement
  • focus on strengths
  • holistic and personalised care
  • family, carers, support people and significant others
  • community participation and citizenship
  • responsiveness to diversity
  • reflection and learning.

These domains each contain four elements:

  • core principles that govern practice, decisions and interactions
  • key capabilities required to enact the core principles
  • examples of good practice
  • examples of good leadership.

Reviewed 29 May 2015


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