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Discuss about the History of Consumer Movements and Development of Recovery.


The History of Consumer Movements and Development of Recovery

The history of consumer movements dates back to early 70’s. At this time, several organised civil rights groups were also in full force (Morrison, 2013). Some of these civil rights groups that were in operation at the time of the conception of consumer movement included American Civil Rights Association, Physical Disabilities Movement, Women Movement for the right to vote and Gay Movement. Notably, in the late 1960’s, de-institutionalisation of large state mental hospitals had already begun (Braslow, 2013). At this time, ex-patients from different mental hospitals then started to meet and organise themselves in small groups across the country. They would organise to meet in churches, living rooms, and community centres where they would express their anger at the system that had caused a lot of harm on them(Braslow, 2013). Basically, most of these patients had been subjected to gruesome procedures including forceful subjection to insulin therapy and or shock treatment. The mental patients were as well used as source of labour to the state hospitals with no pay at all. It was because of all these de-humanisation that angered all the ex-patients (Morrison, 2013). The first groups that formed an organisation included the Insane Liberation Front, in Portland, in 1970, then Mental Patients Libration Project in New York and Mental Patients Liberation Front in Boston both formed in 1971 (Thuma, 2014). The Network Against Psychiatric Assault is another group that formed later in 1972. The major activities that these groups got involved in included demonstrating at the psychiatric hospitals. The protesters would then communicate by means of conferences and newsletters that allowed people to share their stories. In1980s, the Federal Government started supporting the programs of the movements organised by ex-patients through the Community Support Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (Rosenberg & Rosenberg, 2013). In1988 SAMHSA provided funds for 13 self-help demonstration programs. In 1990s, other many new consumer groups were formed (Davidson, 2016). As from 2000s, peer involvement in all the areas of the mental health system increased; working in the inpatient as well as community settings.

From the evidence all over, it is possible that people with mental illness can recover. Recovery orientation has now become recognised in policy as being a service in Australia and the world at large (Chen, Krupa, Lysaght, McCay, & Piat, 2013). Basically, the development of recovery dates back between 1970s and 1980s in the U.S, a concept/notion that Australia has embedded into policy in 1980s like the Mental Health Recovery Movement (Gehart, 2012). In Australia, the driving forces behind recovery movement have been consumer groups and non-government. These sectors have been promoting the application of recovery from mental health illness as from early 1990s. In1992, when the National Mental Health Strategy was endorsed, recovery gained prominence. Also, in 2006-2011, the Council Of Australian’s National Action Plan on Mental Health boosted the notion of recovery.

Recovery Basics

From the mental illness patient’s perspective, recovery means to gain and retain hope, understand one’s disabilities and abilities, engaging in active life, positive self-esteem, social identity, purpose and meaning of life and finally personal autonomy (Drake & Whitley, 2014).

Notably, recovery is not synonymous to cure. Recovery follows basic principles whose purpose is to ensure that the mental health services are delivered in a way that supports recovery of consumers of mental health. The basic principles include:

  • Dignity and respect
  • Real choices
  • Evaluating recovery
  • Attitudes and Rights
  • Uniqueness of the individual
  • Partnership and communication

It is also important to note that all recovery paradigms have central descriptions that include self-determination, hope, advocacy, empowerment and self-management (Drake & Whitley, 2014; Stylianos & Kehyayan, 2012). Recovery has notable characteristics that include

  • A unique and personal journey
  • A normal human process (Drake & Whitley, 2014).
  • A journey rarely taken for many people
  • Nonlinear as it is often interspersed with setbacks and achievement
  • An ongoing experience and not the same as cure or an end point

Consumer Role In Recovery And Importance Of Consumer Participation

Consumers play vital roles in recovery. Basically, mental health consumer workers play roles that include but not limited to: taking part in the planning of the mental health services, execution of peer support roles, execution of roles aimed at supporting clients, advocacy roles, mentoring duties, liaison activities, development of mental health policy, evaluation of mental health services and finally, education in addition to providing training services to professionals and consumers (Bird et al., 2012).


Consumer participation refers to the process of involving health consumers in the policy development, setting quality and priorities, and decisions making about the health service planning in the delivery of mental health services. Firstly, consumer participation reduces level of expenditure as they help in defining health goals, problem detection and information gathering (Bird et al., 2012).  Secondly, consumer participation improves the quality of the mental health care system. For example, consumers can undergo training to instruct psychiatrist nursing students to create a greater practical insight into the experience of the consumer. Thirdly, consumer participation may result into measurable improvement in health outcomes for the consumer. For instance, the consumers will value the programs of treatment if they do comprehend their health condition (Bird et al., 2012). Also, when the consumers participate, they get equipped with parameters upon which they can self-detect warning signs of relapse. Finally, consumer participation enhances consumers’ willingness to complete treatment programs suiting hem as such, reducing anxiety.

Role of Peer Workforce

Peer workforce performs roles that require personal lived experience of the mental health that include peer support and advisor roles. The roles of the peer workforce in supporting mental health service user bodies include;  developing relationships at the national level with mental health service user bodies, provision of mentoring and supervision skills training, development of peer support worker role within the mental health sector, provision of support to the on-going development of consumer advisory roles, facilitating forums for leaderships groups in mental health and finally making sure that voice of the consumer at each level of health mental sector is effective (Canady, 2016; Barnow, 2013).



Barnow, B. S. (2013). State Approaches to the Recovery Act's Workforce Development Provisions. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: The Role of Workforce Programs, 21-34. doi:10.17848/9780880994743.ch2

Bird, V. J., Le Boutillier, C., Leamy, M., Larsen, J., Oades, L. G., Williams, J., & Slade, M. (2012). Assessing the strengths of mental health consumers: A systematic review. Psychological Assessment, 24(4), 1024-1033. doi:10.1037/a0028983

Braslow, J. T. (2013). The Manufacture of Recovery. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9(1), 781-809. doi:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185642

Canady, V. A. (2016). CMHS meeting addresses BH care quality, peer workforce. Mental Health Weekly, 26(9), 3-5. doi:10.1002/mhw.30523

Chen, S. P., Krupa, T., Lysaght, R., McCay, E., & Piat, M. (2013). The development of recovery

competencies for in-patient mental health providers working with people with serious

mental illness. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services

Research, 40(2), 96-116.

Davidson, L. (2016). The Recovery Movement: Implications For Mental Health Care And  Enabling People To Participate Fully In Life. Health Affairs, 35(6), 1091-1097. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0153

Drake, R. E., & Whitley, R. (2014). Recovery and Severe Mental Illness: Description and Analysis. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59(5), 236-242. doi:10.1177/070674371405900502

Gehart, D. R. (2012). The Mental Health Recovery Movement and Family Therapy, Part I: Consumer-Led Reform of Services to Persons Diagnosed with Severe Mental Illness. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(3), 429-442. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00230.x

Morrison, L. J. (2013). Talking Back to Psychiatry: The Psychiatric Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient Movement. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

Rosenberg, J., & Rosenberg, S. (2013). Where Do We Go From Here? The Mental Health Consumer?Community mental health: Challenges for the 21st century. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stylianos, S., & Kehyayan, V. (2012). Advocacy: Critical component in a comprehensive mental health system. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(1), 115-120. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01143.x

Thuma, E. (2014). Against the “Prison/Psychiatric State”: Anti-violence Feminisms and the Politics of Confinement in the 1970s. Feminist Formations, 26(2), 26-51. doi:10.1353/ff.2014.0022


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