Thursday, April 03, 2008


A growing focus in the mental health field is the recovery model, which centers on allowing people with severe mental illnesses control over their own treatment. The theory is that being able to direct their own care both allows patients to choose what is best suited to them and empowers them to further capabilities of independence.
It is a good approach. The affects of a severe mental illness can strip away one’s self-appreciation, and the best cure for that is successfully regaining a capable autonomy. Recovery-based treatment models are well-matched to this task, with a goal of instilling the message that “hope and restoration of a meaningful life are possible, despite serious mental illness.”

Yet while the Treatment Advocacy Center encourages recovery-based efforts, some proponents of it view our efforts to promote rational treatment laws as anathema to the care model. We see them as complimentary. Any treatment model – whether medical, intervention, recovery or other – cannot be the one best suited to each and every person with all the varieties of mental illnesses, the varying degrees of them, and the particular manifestation in each individual. Indeed, we support the use of recovery-focused approaches in the vast majority of cases – but there are instances in which the direction of care cannot be left to a person rendered incapable of directing it.

As pointed out by Treatment Advocacy Board Member Fred Frese:

[M]any individuals are so disabled with mental illness that they do not have the capacity to understand that they are ill. Giving such individuals the right to make decisions about their treatment is tantamount to abandonment. …[I]t is inconsistent with the recovery paradigm to allow incapacitated individuals to remain victims of their serious mental illness. For these persons, measures must be taken so that they become well enough to be able to benefit from the recovery model.

We urge you to read the rest of this excellent commentary of Dr. Frese and his fellow authors on Integrating Evidence-Based Practices and the Recovery Model.”