Authors: Anthony Mancini, USA
Event: 2010 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: “Recovery” and recovery-orientation are now essential concepts in mental health services and policy-making across the globe. So widespread is this influence that recovery initiatives from government entities or advocacy groups can be found in virtually every country with a modern mental health system, from the United States to New Zealand. Broad policy statements in the United States and the United Kingdom have advocated for a mental health system transformed in accord with recovery principles (Scottish Executive, 2006; New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003). Nevertheless, despite the extraordinary level of interest in the concept, clear definitions of “recovery” have not been forthcoming. In fact, recovery has taken on diverse meanings (Davidson, O'Connell, Tondora, Styron, & Kangas, 2006). Moreover, the research literature on recovery is surprisingly sparse. There is a near absence of empirical research on “recovery,” although this has begun to be remedied (e.g., Resnick, Fontana, Lehman, & Rosenheck, 2005). Finally, it remains unclear how mental health program design and policies can be optimized to support recovery orientation. One way to address these deficits is to put recovery on a firmer empirical and theoretical footing. Self-determination theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2000) offers a compelling framework for advancing our understanding of recovery and maximizing its application in mental health programs. A motivational theory that posits three fundamental human needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness to others), SDT bears striking similarity to basic ideas on recovery (Onken, 2004). Another informative framework for understanding recovery is human flourishing (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005). Each of these models reorients the focus from deficits to positive aspects of human functioning and potential, qualities that have been notably absent in virtually all prior explanatory models of severe mental illness. In the present article, we consider the relevance of SDT and human flourishing to recovery-orientation and identify the ways these theoretical frameworks can inform program development, policy-making, and clinical intervention.