Recovery System Characteristics and Principles

MACMHB Winter 2011 Connections by Ernie Reynolds, Certified Peer Support Specialist, Northern Lakes CMH Authority, and Gregory Paffhouse, CEO, Northern Lakes CMH Authority

Connections is extremely pleased that Ernie and Greg have provided us with a vision of a system that is framed by the characteristics and principles of recovery. These are consumer driven qualities. Acquiring this wisdom has been an arduous journey, fraught with untold suffering. Reading this in tandem with Jim Haveman’s article – which looks at administrative structural challenges and changes we face – provides us with two complementary perspectives to guide us as we move ahead.

Entire Connections Winter 2011 issue here

Excerpt of Ernie’s and Greg’s article:

What should a community mental health system look like if it is based on recovery? This was a question posed by Mike Head to the Recovery Council. It is a critical question to be answered since while each person has the right and responsibility to direct his or her own recovery it can be helped, or limited, by what and how services and supports are provided.

So what are the characteristics of a recovery oriented system of care? How will we know if the Michigan community mental health system and our own organizations are recovery oriented?

We believe there is not a “one size fits all” model to accomplish this change. We believe all CMHSPs have made efforts to further their recovery orientation and believe the use of the Recovery Enhancing Environment assessment results, as a benchmark and guide, will be very helpful. We say this believing that becoming a recovery oriented system of care is an on-going process and any such social system transformation is difficult to achieve. We believe this continued growth and transformation is best accomplished by focused strategic systems planning.

At Northern Lakes CMH we built our Recovery Blueprint based on the William A. Anthony, M.D., Boston University, Fall 2000 article for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, “Characteristics of a Recovery Oriented System”. Anthony identified twelve System Dimensions (Design, Evaluation, Leadership, Management, Service Integration, Comprehensiveness, Consumer and Family Involvement, Cultural Relevance, Advocacy, Training, Funding, and Access) and listed System Standards for each dimension.

The public mental health challenge is to make the vision of recovery real in the work we do. It must be more than a concept, words on paper, or changing the sign on the door while doing the same old things inside.

Below we highlight the characteristics, principles, and values of a recovery oriented system. These include choice, self-determination, flexibility, and community membership. You will see that both groups include the foundational importance of engaging, listening to and including persons with lived experience. The Connecticut Practice Guidelines refers to this as “Primacy of Participation.” You will also see how consistent these are with the MDCH Concept Paper and the Application for Renewal and Recommitment.

As space limits our presentation, we want to encourage readers to access the following documents. All three are excellent information sources to help in our organizational journeys to be systems promoting and sustaining recovery.

American Association of Community Psychiatrists (AACP) Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Services

Developing Systems and Services that Support People in Wellness and Recovery: A Primer for Holding Informed Discussion, California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies, April 2007

Practice Guidelines for Recovery-Oriented Behavioral Health Care, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, May 2006