At the end of November, the Australian Government held a special event to announce the 2015 National Disability Awards winners. One of the awards, ‘Excellence in Choice and Control in Service Delivery’ went to Mind Recovery College, a service of Mind Australia.
So why did Mind win this award? What is happening at the Recovery College that deserves special attention?
At the Mind Recovery College people whose lives are affected by mental health disability engage in learning that helps them manage their recovery. What’s really special is that the courses are delivered by people who are sharing their own personal experiences of mental distress and what works for them for improving their lives. You are not a client at Recovery College, you are a student or a teacher.
The College’s co-production approach pairs people with lived experience of mental health disability with professional teaching coaches. The College is role modelling a consumer choice culture where power is shared, first-hand knowledge is valued alongside other forms of evidence-based information, and consumers (and carers) feel and are an integral part of the running of the College. The majority of College staff have personal experience of mental ill-health which is included as one of the recruitment selection criteria.
Courses run by the College include:
Navigating the mental health system
The mental health system can be difficult to make sense of and makes it harder to access help. It can make the experience of receiving support stressful and counter to recovery. This course provides an overview of what is on offer including how to access services and how to make the most of those services.
Assertiveness is a way of communicating that allows us to express our point of view and state our needs clearly. In this course participants have the chance to gain assertiveness skills. We explore and learn what assertive communication is, ways we can communicate and behave, what assertive communication looks like, and techniques for assertive behaviour including saying no and giving and receiving feedback.
Developing your own advance statement
Advance statements are a way of telling your loved ones and health care practitioners how you wish to receive support. In this course, people learn about why advanced statements were introduced and their practical use. The facilitator will also share their experience of writing and using an advance statement. You will be supported in identifying what can be included, who can be involved in the development of your advance statement, and what to do with your advance statement once it is completed.
Inclusion, engagement and empowerment are evident in student, teacher and co-production workshop contributors’ comments, such as:
“I’ve found it ground breaking and pro-active to consumers’ needs.”
“I’ve used services for ten years; this is something really different.”
“It’s great to have a civilised debate!”
“After this course, I feel like a real person, not a diagnosis.”
See the Recovery College website for course dates and enrollment details.