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Behavioral health problems and services have been viewed variably by those giving and receiving the services. Many have considered those delivering the services as autocratic and paternalistic. Professional helpers have viewed those with mental illness as disabled and they have been oriented to care for such people as individuals with perpetual needs. From this perspective, they have assumed positions of power in the relationships they have shared with consumers. In most service systems, programs are developed to meet the needs of a prototypical patient. Program elements are often rigidly defined to attend to that prototype. Consumers have been expected to fit into these services, whether they match their needs precisely, or not. The assumption that one size can fit all has not been a successful approach to service planning.
Professionals have been trained to think in terms of chronic, unremitting or even deteriorating disabilities in their patients with severe mental illness. Even in the addiction field, where many recovery concepts originated, the professional culture has generally maintained an authoritarian posture. Little hope has been offered for a return to a productive, respected place in the community, outside of highly prescriptive and restrictive parameters. Service users have reported feeling humiliated, demeaned, and devalued by their experiences within these systems. Some have developed profound hostility and mistrust towards the systems that were meant to help them. This has frequently left service users confused and alienated, cut off from hope and meaning in their lives. Today many consumers of behavioral health services have adopted recovery perspectives. These concepts have been used in some quarters for many years, but interest in them has become widespread relatively recently. Although recovery has been variably defined, most conceptualizations recognize that recovery is a highly personal process and one that continues throughout a person’s life. (Author)
Dallas, TX
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services