Would I Know a Recovery-Oriented Mental Health System If I Saw One?

Although there are many organizational change theories, they all start with a similar premise; if you know where you are and you have a vision of where you want to be, you can change and strive to move toward that ideal and toward that vision. I have listened and learned over the years, and I have honed my organizational management skills and clarified and strengthened my vision to try to get to that place. In order to make sure I knew where our system needed to go, I began to operationalize desired outcomes for a system of services that could meet the established vision. These desired outcomes are based on the values of choice, hope, person orientation, and partnership.6

Incorporating the value of choice meant increasing access to and integration of services and creating an expanded continuum of services for people to explore and achieve rehabilitation and recovery. If our mental health system led with the value of choice, we would see services that helped people attain real-life goals like employment, education, and economic self-sufficiency, as well as strengthened social relationships, dating, marriage and raising children. People would have a choice of whom they might work with to obtain their goals, and there would be ample opportunity to experience the power of peer support.

If the value of hope was common throughout our service continuum, we would see more service recipients and staff who actually believe that a change in the way we do business would be a good thing and that it would be supported by regulators, funders, other professionals, peers, and family. They would be embracing change in their practice rather than resisting it.

True partnership would be seen through increased numbers of people with a lived experience involved in the planning and delivery of services at all levels of the system. If our services were person-oriented, we would see fewer rules that excluded and discharged people from our services and more flexibility in accessing and utilizing them. We would also see people become less dependent on our mental health system and more actively involved in community activities and roles.

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