Glossary of terms
Some people like to think about it as wellbeing recovery (recovering our wellbeing) – but essentially ‘recovery’ is about ‘LIFE’ and access to the means of having a ‘good’ life (which is of course very subjective and personal) … if the focus is on illness, medication and services then it’s not recovery (not ‘personal recovery’ as per our Australian National Mental Health Recovery Framework anyway).
When our focus is on a person and supporting them to build/rebuild their life, then we are getting closer. The idea that you have to eradicate ‘symptoms’ first (clinical recovery (Slade, 2009) or teach them to budget and vacuum (social recovery (Coleman, 2011) is an old one that is past its use-by date.
People all around the world are living well while juggling the things which (from within a bio-determinist, reductionist framework) get called ‘symptoms’ every day – just think about Dr Nash depicted in the film a Beautiful Mind, he lived with voices and visions and still worked, had a family and forged a good life despite hospitalisations and mental health struggles along the way.
To focus on a person’s interior (so-called ‘broken brain’) lets society and politicians off the hook and side tracks them from noticing the structural elements of society that prevent all people from having the same opportunities for forging a good life.
Elements such as race, class, power (and its abuse), homelessness, unemployment, alienation and poverty which are the real causes of deep distress. A recovery college is about shifting our focus from the individualistic, interior lens of ‘what’s wrong with you’ to supporting people to have access to learning things that can be helpful in their lives, to hear from others who live well, have found ways to live with voices, visions, sadness and pain, who have found pathways to housing, work, healing and education (in other words … ‘the social determinants of health’).”
Definition by Lyn Mahboub, Strategic Recovery Advisor Richmond Wellbeing and Lived Experience Academic Curtin University, 2019.