Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to summarise two 2014 research papers that highlight the role of social interactions and the social world in recovery in the context of mental distress.
Design/methodology/approach: The author summarise two papers: one is about two theories from social psychology that help us understand social identity – our sense of who we are. The other brings together and looks at the similarities and differences between ten different therapies that can be called resource-oriented – that is, they focus on people's strengths and resources rather than what is wrong with them.
Findings: The paper on social identity gives a convincing case for incorporating teaching about social identity – and the social groups to which people belong – into the training of mental health professionals. The paper on resource-oriented therapies suggests that social relationships are a main component of all ten therapies examined. This second paper suggested a need for more research and theory relating to resource-oriented therapies. Social identity theory could help address this issue. Mental health services may be able to help people more by focusing on their established and desired social identities and group-belonging, and their strengths, than is usual.
Originality/value: These two papers seem timely given the growing recognition of the role of social factors in the development and maintenance of mental distress. More attention to social factors in recovery could help make it more self-sustaining.
FIELDHOUSE Jon, PARMENTER Vanessa, HORTOP Alice
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report on an action inquiry (AI) evaluation of the Natureways project, a time-limited collaboration between an NHS Trust Vocational Service and a voluntary sector horticulture-based community interest company (CIC).
Design/methodology/approach: Natureways produced positive employment outcomes and an AI process – based on co-operative inquiry with trainees, staff, and managers – explored how these had been achieved.
Findings: Natureways’ efficacy was based on features of the setting (its supportiveness, rural location, and workplace authenticity), on its embeddedness (within local care-planning pathways, the horticultural industry, and the local community), and on effective intersectoral working. The inquiry also generated actionable learning about creative leadership and adaptability in the changing landscape of service provision, about the benefits of the CIC's small scale and business ethos, about the links between trainees’ employability, social inclusion and recovery, about horticulture as a training medium, and about the role of AI in service development.
Practical implications: The inquiry highlights how an intersectoral CIC can be an effective model for vocational rehabilitation.
Social implications: Community-embeddeness is an asset for mental health-orientated CICs, facilitating social inclusion and recovery. Social and therapeutic horticulture settings are seen to be conducive to this.
Originality/value: This case study suggests that AI methodology is not only well-suited to many practitioners’ skill sets, but its participatory ethos and focus on experiential knowledge makes it suitable for bringing a service user voice to bear on service development.