Recovery Oriented Services for Persons with Severe Mental Illness Can Focus on Meeting Needs Through Care Coordination

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Abstract

Recovery oriented services for persons with severe mental illness continue to be more a vision than a reality. Although much is known about what contributes to recovery, there are few models of care that attempt to translate recovery principles to practice. This perspectives paper argues that services that focus on meeting clients’ needs rather than on symptom reduction is a viable option. In this recovery model, clinical mental health services form a part rather than the mainstay of care and care coordination to address needs becomes central to the recovery oriented service in a hub and spoke model. Although a shift from the current model of care to a needs based approach will reduce the load on clinical services, it requires a revolutionary change in the way we do business.

Background: The approach to care for persons with an acute illness is different from that for a person with a chronic disease. Whilst the goal of treatment for an acute illness is to cure the disease, a chronic condition has no cure as such, and hence management requires a team approach that is aimed at achieving goals that are jointly set by service users and providers. Severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) is a chronic disease. However, in many mental health services, the approach to care for persons with SPMI is similar to those who have an acute mental illness.

Aim: The aims of this paper are twofold: (i) to make an argument for recovery oriented services to focus on meeting clients' needs rather than on symptom reduction, (ii) to propose a model of service provision where clinical mental health services form a part rather than the mainstay of care for people with SPMI.

Results: Using examples from Australia's Partner's in Recovery initiative and other recovery literature, we start by describing how SPMI should be treated as a chronic disease that focuses on recovery. We then highlight how mental health services continue to monitor outcomes based on clinical rather than personal recovery. Next, we diagrammatically illustrate how needs can be aligned with the recovery process and illustrate how care coordination can be the hub of service delivery in a hub and spoke model. We conclude with comments on workforce requirements and costs of a needs-based recovery oriented service.

Discussion: In a needs based model, the role of the specialist mental health service will move from being at the centre of care to being one of the components of care and the role of the care coordinator will become central. Although, there are as yet no randomised controlled trials to show that meeting needs of persons with SPMI will significantly contribute to their recovery, preliminary studies show that it is possible.

Implications for Healthcare Provision and Use: The role of the care coordinator becomes the hub of service provision collaborating with agencies such as family practices, specialist mental health services, legal, housing, employment, education, and community services.

Implications for Health Policies: A shift from the current model of care to a needs based approach requires a revolutionary change in the way we do business and will have to be the largest shake up of the mental health service system since deinstitutionalisation.

Implications for Further Research: It is a long journey from the status quo to a needs based approach. The first step would be to gather more evidence on the usefulness of addressing people's needs in achieving recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

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