Dr Andrew Mayers

Research: Mental health recovery

The recovery model for mental health advocates the role that the service user plays in the path to better mental health. It is a challenge to traditional methods, namely the medical model, which tends to focus more on medication and psychology therapy, under the sole direction of professional health and clinical services. The recovery model does not dismiss medication; far from it. In many cases medication management is part of that process. However, the focus on the recovery model is on how the service is central in decisions made about their mental health. To be fair to modern psychiatrists and psychologists, many are now beginning to subscribe to the recovery model. The recover model uses education and peer support to guide the journey. Service users (and their carers) learn about the potential causes and risk factors for mental illnesses, along with treatment options, side effects, and prognoses. Peer supporters, with lived experience of mental illness, play a large role in guiding those who are currently unwell.

Although the recovery model is not entirely new, there is still little empirical research to support the clinical and anecdotal evidence about short term and long term benefits. I have been working with a number of local groups to extend that research.

University Departmental of Mental Health (UDMH)

UDMH is a collaboration between Bournemouth University and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust,. With the recovery model as a focus, UDMH seeks to improve professional practice and the care for service users and carers  through education, research, enterprise and practice development. I am part of the management group for UDMH. Much of my research reflects the fusion of academic endeavour and clinical practice. The 2013 UDMH Conference will take place on Friday, 6th September . Further details will be posted here soon.

First Point

Run by Bournemouth Borough Council, First Point provides coaching and peer support for people with mental health difficulties, using recovery model principles. With the help of my undergraduate students, I have been exploring the benefit of their services. The data examine improvements in aspects of mental health, such as social anxiety, mood, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Recently, one of those students (James Ryan) combined data collected by several students as the basis of his final year project for the psychology degree. You can read more about that here. One of the recommendations of that study was that we need to undertake more qualitative analyses that explore perceptions of the recovery journey; that work is currently being planned.

Dorset Mental Health Forum: Recovery Education Centres (REC)

REC Programme evaluation

Dorset Mental Health Forum is a peer-led mental health charity, based in Dorchester. Using recovery model principles, the Forum provide peer-support and education to help people gain better mental health. One of their many initiatives includes the Recovery Education Centres (REC).  The REC courses are aimed at service users, carers, and mental professionals. The seek to empower service users to find hope, embrace opportunity (through building skills), and gain control (by putting these skills into practice). With help from undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students, it has been a pleasure to be part of the evaluation programme. You can read about some the outcomes of the research here.

CBT and recovery (Pre-REC support)

When service users are acutely unwell, they may find it harder to fully benefit from the REC courses. At this stage, poor insight may hinder recovery. To tackle this. the Forum is working with local NHS Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) to design programmes that can provide support and therapy that aims to get the service user to a point where they can engage in the REC programme, We are working with the Forum and Dorset CHMT to explore recovery-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), using REC principles (peer-led education, etc.). We will provide updates soon.

e-mail: amayers@bournemouth.ac.uk

Twitter: @DrAndyMayers