Where we came from
The Scottish Recovery Network (SRN) was formally launched in 2004 as an initiative designed to raise awareness of recovery from mental health problems. Since then interest in the concept of recovery has increased greatly in Scotland. We now understand more about what recovery means to people and are thinking carefully about the implications for the way we support people with mental health issues.
A number of factors led to SRN’s creation. From around the year 2000, people in Scotland were becoming more aware of efforts in other countries related to recovery, most notably the United States and New Zealand. In these countries what was called a ‘recovery approach’ was being used to influence positive change. At the same time there were an increasing number of people in Scotland who were sharing their personal experiences of recovery. People were using their story to inform, inspire and challenge. It was becoming clear that we had to listen much more carefully to this type of ‘lived experience’.
At that time recovery offered a more positive way forward based on a belief in people’s innate capacity for change. A network developed where people came together to talk and share ideas about recovery and to consider what we could do to promote the concept in Scotland.
Throughout this period the Scottish Executive’s National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing included an aim to promote and support recovery. Members of the Network created a proposal for support from the National Programme and, as a result, SRN was formally launched in 2004.
NHS Health Scotland’s 2008 Review of Scotland’s National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing notes that: “The panel agrees with Berzins (2006) view that the SRN will have a key role to play in the future of mental health improvement in Scotland, both through continuing to promote recovery-orientated approaches, and in using its awareness-raising capacity to influence training and research…”
We celebrated SRN’s tenth anniversary in 2014. During the previous ten years there was significant activity related to the promotion and support of mental health recovery in Scotland.
Initial efforts focused on gathering, sharing and learning from experiences of recovery and building a constituency of support and influence. Subsequently a range of Government policies have consistently identified recovery as a guiding principle of both service design and mental health improvement efforts, including in the 2012-15 Mental Health Strategy.
Recovery learning has been developed and shared and workforce competencies have been reviewed, most notably in mental health nursing. At the same time a range of initiatives and tools to promote mental health recovery have been put in place locally and nationally. These include self-management tools and approaches, the introduction of peer support working approaches and the widespread use of the Scottish Recovery Indicator (SRI 2) service development tool. All of these efforts have been underpinned by a strong emphasis on valuing and learning from lived experiences of people who have been affected by mental health issues.
Recovery might now reasonably be described as having moved from the margins of Scotland’s mental health system to the mainstream.