Recovery and Resilience. A sociological critique of strength-based models of mental health

One day workshop: Recovery and Resilience. A sociological critique of strength-based models of mental health 

University of East London, Monday 16th June 2014: 10.00am-5.00pm 

What is recovery? Are all conceptions of recovery the same, or are they contradictory? 

Has the idea of recovery been compromised? 

What are the progressive elements in recovery? 

Does it individualise social problems? 

Over a relatively short space of time the concept of recovery has become ubiquitous – for example, many mental health services re-titled services so they included the term ‘recovery’ and there are numerous conferences, articles, books and training programmes all focused on recovery. At one level this seems a wholly positive development: services are oriented to optimistic positive outcomes rather than the pessimism that many services users felt characterized services in the past. However, there has been increasing debate about recovery. Given the ubiquity of recovery discourse and its centrality in government and third sector policy development it is, perhaps, timely to reflect on its development, to consider critiques and to formulate possible ways forward. For example, should it be abandoned and replaced with something else? Or can it be transformed in response to critiques? 

This meeting will bring together: two leading experts by experience who have written and researched widely on the topic of recovery; a mental health researcher involved in the development of current recovery models (either from the third sector or the academy); and researchers from the disciplines of social work, sociology and psychology critical of current approaches to recovery. The objectives of the meeting will be to review the way in which recovery has been conceptualised, discuss a range of mainstream and critical perspectives and to outline possible alternative approaches to theory, research, policy and practice. 

Places are limited to ensure an opportunity for dialogue across all sessions. This event is free to attend but registration is required. All tickets available on a ‘first come first served’ basis and 4 travel bursaries of £50 are available to Postgraduate Researchers and Early Career Researchers (further details available upon registration). Refreshments and lunch are provided free for all registered attenders. Register via Eventbrite here: 



Full details of the programme also available at Eventbrite site. 

Location: Room G.19, University Square Stratford, University of East London, 1 Salway Road, Stratford, London E15 1NF. Directions: www.universitysquarestratford.ac.uk

This seminar is organized by the School of Psychology, University of East London and the School of Health and Human Sciences, University of Essex. It is supported by funding from the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness: http://www.shifoundation.org.uk/ 

About the Speakers 

Jaqcui Dillon – Jacqui is a leading UK expert by experience and is co-editor of De-Medicalizing Misery (Palgrave, 2011) Living With Voices: Fifty Stories Of Recovery (PCCS, 2009) and Models of Madness (Routledge, 2013). 

Dr David Harper – David is Reader in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London and Joint Programme Director: Academic of the UEL clinical psychology programme. He co-authored Psychology, Mental Health and Distress (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) and was a contributor with Ewen Speed to the ‘The Politics of Resilience and Recovery in Mental Health Care’ special issue of Studies in Social Justice (2012, Vol 6, number 1). 

John Larsen – John is the Head of Evaluation at the mental health charity Rethink and he has been at the forefront of policy developments in respect of recovery within the third sector. Rethink have published a number of recover-related resources including How Mental Health Professionals Can Support Recovery and 100 Ways To Support Recovery. He is a member of the Sociology of Mental Health Study Group 

Professor David Pilgrim – David is based in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool. He has published widely in the field of the sociology of mental health including co-authoring Recovery and Mental Health: A Critical Sociological Account (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). 

Dr Helen Spandler – Helen is Reader in Mental Health in the Department of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the author of a number of books including Beyond Fear And Control: Working With Young People Who Self-Harm (PCCS books, 2007) as well as a number of articles including a co-authored paper on compassion and recovery in the Journal of Mental Health in 2011. She is a member of the Sociology of Mental Health Study Group. 

Dr Ewen Speed – Ewen is Senior Lecturer in Medical Sociology at the University of Essex and a contributor, with Dave Harper to the special issue of Studies in Social Justice (2012, Vol 6, number 1). He co-edited De-Medicalizing Misery II: Society, Politics and the Mental Health Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, in press). He is also contributing co-editor of the Cost of Living blog, a blog about the politics, economics and sociology of health and healthcare. 

Dr Jan Wallcraft – Jan is a leading UK freelance survivor researcher and senior researcher at the Recovery In-Sight Social Enterprise. She was lead author of A Common Purpose: Recovery In Future Mental Health Services a position paper published by the Care Services Improvement Partnership, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. She has written chapters on recovery (e.g. in Jerry Tew’s Social Perspectives in Mental Health), was a contributor to the Social Perspective’s Network’s (2007) Whose Recovery is it Anyway? report and co-edited the Handbook of Service User Involvement in Mental Health Research (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). 
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