The recovery approach to mental health needs focuses on and provides support for a person’s potential for recovery, which is conceptualised more as journey than an outcome. At present, there is little in the literature looking at this approach with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.
However, as there is an increased prevalence of mental health problems in people with learning disabilities, the authors were keen to explore how the recovery approach might be developed in mental health services for people with learning disabilities. They set out to look at ways in which recovery principles in mental health services and existing approaches in services for people with learning disabilities might show similarities and also where there may be barriers to its use.
They reviewed the presence and implementation of “recovery” approaches in mental health services for people with learning disabilities by looking at a range of existing practices that could be described as recovery oriented and raising questions about ways in which these practices relate to the recovery approach. The authors raise the question of whether practices in learning disability services can ever be regarded as “recovery oriented”, without first consulting the people using the service.
They conclude that there is insufficient date for a clear conclusion with more thought about the extent to which mental health services for people with learning disabilities could be considered recovery oriented. They raise a fundamental question about how recovery would be defined amongst people with learning disabilities.
They suggest the need for further research on the recovery approach using qualitative methodology to enable the voice of service users to be heard in order for consideration to be given to
the potential for its meaningful application to people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems.
Recovery and intellectual disabilities: a review, Handley E et al in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 6, 4, 192 – 198