The Recovery Approach is mental health care is an important development. It shifts the focus away from the pathology to a process of containing the destructive impact of the illness while identifying and building on a person’s strengths and interests. Care is not in the first place oriented towards managing symptoms but helps people maintain an identity and a life beyond that of a ‚mental patient’. In Belgium the Recovery Approach is not mainstream but it has emerged as a powerful undercurrent in the ongoing process of reform of the mental health sector.
The King Baudouin Foundation in partnership with the Julie Renson Fund and Queen Fabiola Fund initiated a reflection on the position and importance of the Recovery Approach in our mental health care system today. The groundwork was done in two research projects. The Département d’Etudes et d’Actions Sociales (DEAS) at Mons University carried out a mapping of innovative approaches in the Belgian mental health care landscape. The LUKAS research group of the KULeuven collected two dozen life stories from people who are (or were) on a recovery path. shiftN was then asked to moderate an expert group in an effort to extract insights from these two research projects. These insights were subsequently offered as input to a full day of debate joined by over a hundred representatives from the mental health sector. The day was facilitated by shiftN in collaboration with Stéphane Delberghe (Atanor). The reflections and suggestions that emerged from the debate session were finally summarized in a publication by the King Baudouin Foundation, authored by Patrick Derynck and shiftN’s Philippe Vandenbroeck.