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Organizational Change Toward Recovery-Oriented Service Provision. A Provider’s Perspective



President Obama’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health challenged the system to provide recovery-oriented programs that promote person-centered care. Consumer advocates have demanded that mental health systems both recognize and support recovery. In these dialogues, recovery is not akin to cure, but rather is defined as:1 “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential” (SAMHSA, 2011). Four dimensions support a life in recovery:

  • Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms—for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and nonprescribed medications if one has an addiction problem—and, for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being.
  • Home: a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Supporting a recovery-oriented system does not mean avoiding medication. Nor does it prevent or discourage using findings from research on developing treatments and understanding mechanisms of illness. A recovery-oriented system of care joins with consumers and families in embracing and considering all treatment options and strategies. It uses shared decision-making to help consumers consider how treatments can help them achieve their goals in life.

Implementing a person-centered model of care requires change at the provider and organizational levels. The purpose of this chapter is to hear the story of a leader in organizational change. Edye Schwartz is currently Director of Systems Transformation at the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (NYAPRS), a statewide coalition of people who use and/or provide recovery-oriented, community-based, mental health services. NYAPRS is dedicated to improving services and social conditions for people with psychiatric disabilities or diagnoses and those with trauma-related conditions by promoting their recovery, rehabilitation, and rights so that all people can participate freely in the opportunities of society. The NYAPRS Board of Directors and staff comprised a mix of recovering people and professionals dedicated to the people, principles, and programs that make up New York’s mental health recovery and rehabilitation community.

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