Implementation guidelines for public mental health services and private hospitals

10.1 Supporting recovery

Page last updated: October 2010

The MHS incorporates recovery principles into service delivery, culture and practice providing consumers with access and referral to a range of programs that will support sustainable recovery.

Supporting evidence


The intent of this Standard is to ensure that mental health services (MHS) facilitate the recovery journey for consumers by assisting consumers to achieve wellness, rather than just treating the illness.

Recovery-oriented culture and practices (Criterion 10.1.1)

In recovery-oriented services, recovery values are reflected in the organisation, administration and staffing. Examples include:
  • a mission statement identifying recovery processes and outcomes
  • policy statements and guidelines providing recovery-based principles for service delivery
  • quality improvement that is developed, implemented and monitored in collaboration with consumers and carers
  • staff selection, training and supervision according to recovery values and with consumer and carer involvement
  • whole-of-service commitment to responding to cultural differences and Indigenous uniqueness
  • stigma and discrimination free practices.
Principles of Recovery Oriented Mental Health Practice include:
  • uniqueness of the individual
  • real choices
  • attitudes and rights
  • dignity and respect
  • partnership and communication
  • evaluating recovery.
(Details of these principles can be found at the back of the National Standards.)Top of page

Dignity and respect (Criterion 10.1.2)

Every individual has worth and deserves respect, dignity and effective care. A focus on the consumer's recovery and participation in their own care can facilitate this. Respect and dignity is mandatory regardless of culture, social context, residence or the service setting, particularly in remote Australia.

Recognition and support (Criterion 10.1.3)

In a recovery model, the aim is to have consumers take responsibility for themselves. This can be achieved by instilling hope, re-establishing a positive identity and self esteem, healing, empowerment, and connection by applying the principles of human rights, providing a positive culture of healing, and culturally informed recovery-oriented services.

Responsibility for self can be achieved by supporting the consumer to:
  • develop their own goals
  • work with other healthcare providers, carers, family and friends, to make plans for reaching these goals
  • take on decision-making tasks
  • engage in self-care.
It is important that practitioners working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander settings know how to access appropriate information and identify consumers' strengths and abilities.

The MHS should give consumers and their carers simple and easy to understand information in the appropriate language. This should include information on:
  • the consumer's condition including how to care for themselves after they exit the service
  • how to follow the treatment, care and recovery plan and achieve the expected results
  • improving and maintaining the consumer's overall health and wellbeing
  • peer-based support programs and services that promote recovery
  • appropriate inpatient activity programs.

Self (Criteria 10.1.4, 10.1.6)

10.1.4 The MHS should encourage and support consumer and carer autonomy.

Autonomy should be understood in a social and cultural context, particularly for Indigenous consumers and carers. Services and practitioners should have access to training resources which explore autonomy in contexts appropriate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and suggest ways to support this in local practice.

10.1.6 The MHS can assist consumers to develop independence and regain self direction, understanding and control of their illness through:

  • using advance-care directives and treatment and care and recovery plans
  • helping consumers to develop connections with communities
  • establishing relationships with community organisations beyond the mental health service system
  • establishing policy and procedures that give consumers opportunities for choice and control
  • educating staff about special interest groups and community activities for consumers.

Social inclusion and citizenship (Criterion 10.1.5)

Examples of strategies that the MHS can use to promote the rights of individuals with mental illness to social inclusion and citizenship include:
  • asking consumers about what worked and what didn't work for them in their own recovery, including how the treatment, care and recovery plans supported or hindered their progress
  • encouraging and supporting consumers to participate in all aspects of service planning, development and implementation (further information on consumer participation is available in Standard 3 Consumer and carer participation)
  • encouraging and supporting consumers to become advocates (further information on advocacy is available in Standard 1 Rights and responsibilities and Standard 3 Consumer and carer participation)
  • providing information to consumers that is easy to understand about how they are protected by disability and mental health legislation
  • ensuring practitioners know about, and can engage with, relevant work, recreational and family-focused agencies and activities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander settings, including both conventional and traditional activities and practices.
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Positive connections—social, family and friends (Criterion 10.1.7)

Re-connection to the community should be viewed as a primary goal of the MHS and reflected in the MHS mission statement. The MHS should support and encourage consumers to develop or re-establish appropriate connections with family, friends and community support networks.

The responsibility for leading community integration activities should be designated to specific MHS staff.

The MHS should work collaboratively with consumers to develop and review the consumer's goals for re-connecting with the community, consistent with cultural processes and social constraints.

The culture of the MHS should value and foster the use of peer support and consumer self-help.

Education should be provided to staff and consumer and carer advocates about the range of support networks that are available in the community such as local civic and volunteer groups, faith communities and educational institutions.

Location should not compromise efforts and resources to support social inclusion in rural and remote settings.

Participation of consumers (Criterion 10.1.8)

This criterion is covered by the guidelines in Standard 3 Consumer and carer participation.

In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander settings the MHS must ensure individual participation of consumers and carers, and provide support for developing and running consumer and carer representative groups at regional and local levels.

Community services and resources (Criterion 10.1.9)

The MHS should be aware of community services that may support consumers. These could include:
  • drug and alcohol services
  • youth services
  • housing services
  • employment services
  • Centrelink
  • aged-care services
  • health promotion/public health
  • local government
  • churches and religious groups
  • educational institutions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and groups
  • multicultural groups
  • early childhood services
  • volunteer groups.

Carer centred approaches (Criterion 10.1.10)

Carer centered approaches may include:
  • involving the carer in treatment and support
  • providing culturally informed carer education regarding the relevant mental illness
  • training the carer in family communication and problem solving skills
  • providing counselling and ongoing support for the carer
  • offering support for children of parents with a mental illness
  • facilitating contact with relevant support or self-help groups.
Relationships with family, carers, sexual partners, friends, peers, cultural groups and the community are encouraged.Top of page

Suggested evidence

Evidence that may be provided for this standard includes:
  • an organisational mission statement
  • evidence of the organisation's commitment to cultural competence and cultural safety
  • information and education being provided to consumers and carers
  • links with other service providers
  • consumer and carer satisfaction surveys
  • treatment, care and recovery plans
  • consumer and carer interviews
  • evidence of access to consumer-run groups
  • evidence of referrals to recovery support programs
  • evidence of follow-up
  • policies and procedures covering:
    • principles for service delivery
    • cultural safety
    • staff selection
    • training and supervision
    • working with carers
    • education programs
    • referral processes
    • consumer and carer support systems.