Mental illness and recovery: a mental health support worker’s perspective
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This research investigated what mental health supporter workers (MHSWs) in New Zealand understood recovery to be. Furthermore, MHSWs were asked how they foster recovery in the work place and their understanding of the role of autonomy in the recovery process. Eight MHSWs were interviewed, using semi-structured interviews, about how they can support service users in their recovery. They were volunteers working for a recovery-oriented non-government organisation (NGO). The participants varied in the number of years work experience in mental health and number of years working for the organisation. Two common themes that became evident from the discussions with MHSWs were first; the importance of service users defining what recovery is to them, and how they recover. Second, MHSWs indicated that part of the recovery process entails service users re/gaining ascendancy over aspects of their life. MHSWs facilitate service users' recovery at work by providing a platform for their recovery to take place. Moreover, MHSWs understood autonomy to be both a facilitator and a barrier to service users' recovery, and that service users' readiness for autonomy was a key indicator as to whether autonomy would act as a barrier or facilitator to their recovery. MHSWs have indicated that they are more successful in advancing service users' recovery when their own values are congruent to the recovery philosophy. This has implications with recruiting and training staff as competent agents of recovery. Thus MHSWs will be able to perform both simple and complex tasks related to aiding and supporting the recovery journey of service users. Furthermore MHSWs that are well resourced, work with and have the abovementioned skills will ensure that they are competent agents of recovery.