Briefing: Recovery Colleges

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This Briefing argues that specialist assessment and treatment, whilst important, represent only a small part of what mental health services do and that far more is needed if people are to participate as equal citizens in economic, social and family life and do the things they value.  It argues that a more educational approach, that complements traditional treatment approaches, is central to driving recovery-focused organisational change.  

The briefing describes the key features of a Recovery College, an overview of how Recovery Colleges can be developed, and their evidence base.

The eight defining features of Recovery Colleges are described as:

  • Co-production between people with personal and professional experience of mental health problems
  • A physical base with classrooms and a library where people can do their own research
  • It operates on college principles
  • It is for everyone
  • There is a Personal Tutor (or equivalent) who offers information, advice and guidance
  • It is not a substitute for traditional assessment and treatment
  • It is not a substitute for mainstream colleges
  • It must reflect recovery principles in all aspects of its culture and operation

The paper describes how Recovery Colleges are co-produced in local partnerships, and generally start by bringing together groups of peers and staff to develop an initial prospectus.  It describes the five areas that experience suggests the prospectus generally clusters around:

  • Understanding mental health issues and treatment options
  • Rebuilding life with mental health challenges
  • Developing life skills
  • Capacity building among the peer work force
  • Family and friends

The briefing goes on to describe the evidence base and benefits of this approach

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