What would a “Recovery Hub” look like?

I’m currently starting to ask people in online spaces that I visit what would be useful tools for them in their recovery from periods of mental distress.

I want to post a copy of some conversations going on in groups I’m a member of on Facebook, where some really interesting points have been made. Do join in with this discussion- the question posed is:

I wondered if you would be interested in helping me to start a conversation about what services and resources are useful to people who are in recovery after experiencing mental distress?

I’m hoping to be able to prove that service users and carers have some great ideas that they should try to develop- can I ask you to share any ideas you have?

Some initial thoughts-

  • Physical space in a non nhs setting to meet up for a coffee
  • Education/self management resources available to look at or take away
  • Computers and online access to search for your own resources, or build your support networks
  • Staff could arrange to meet you there for appointments, if you didn’t want to go to an nhs building
  • Training for you to develop and run your own groups to support each other
  • Help with getting funding for mental health projects you’ve thought of
  • Access to volunteering
  • Access to paid work, delivering training, speaking about mental health, as peer support workers
  • An online resource, maybe a social network? you could log in from your phone or at home?

None of these solutions would be right for everyone, and I’m sure you’ve got your own ideas- what do you think would be helpful?

The results in so far:

if you suffer with social anxiety the thought of being placed in a group with other people is enough to put some one back in hospital.

me:  if someone has social anxiety, is it helpful to have a range of resources online rather than recommend them come to a physical group?

more services that do home visits would be good – if you have social anxiety, for example, it would help to get to know someone in a “safe” place like your own home, talk about barriers to getting out and then have support (for as long as needed) to go out and meet people.

me:  like a “parachute” service that could be called out to visit at home? would this be mental health staff, or trained peer workers?

main thing would be consistency so you can learn to trust someone and they can take you to different places – maybe with the aim of being able to meet up with people who have similar problems in future

One of my bugbears is the lack of recognition that if you are chronically sick you are more likely to be socially isolated and suffer from depression

me: And equally, people with mental health diagnoses have poor physical health- perhaps we could include this too?

i live in a part of the city where there are very few facilities if you have mental health problems apart from GPs. the support groups, charities, outreach centres etc are mainly on the other side of the city which don’t necessarily have direct bus routes from where i live. buses are difficult when you have social anxiety, going to places you don’t know can be too frightening, and i can’t drive because i have epilepsy. The churches don’t provide much if you’re under 60 but don’t have young children. it’s easy to lose touch with friends when you don’t go out to work and can’t cope with going to the pub.

A consortium of employers in the regional areas that can come together and universally employ an individual in that the individual isn’t committed to a single one employer. This would benefit those employers during there occasional busy days or seasonal times and have a higher success rating for actually being able to maintain some form of employment for the individual.

me: this is exactly what mobility DLA is for to cover costs due to your disability such as taxis for trips to support centres (I know it’s a rotten time to be a DLA applicant, btw) So, for people with social anxieties, it’s important to either have safe ways to travel to a physical centre or hub- or there could be “parachute” visits out into community, or there could be a certain amount of online support for days when physical travel is just too hard? Does that reflect what you’re saying well enough?

me: That’s interesting, xxxxxx, so in your model, people would be “signed up” a bit like signing up to an employment agency? Then they could be allocated work for days that they feel able to do work? Like, sign in by 10 am for today’s work? I’m guessing those people would have to keep records- would they be self-employed, or employed on zero hours contracts?

a friend of mine said a couple of weekends ago there must be loads od small, medium and large companies that have all manner of tasks on projects that someone working from home could do that are hugely time critical but in alarge project needs doing at some point, but project workers, managers etc wouldnt employ someone to do one task,l but if lots of employer could do to an agency that is task focused with all manner of people with skills and knowledge. they work for the agency and the agency make sure the work is done…

I’m against be forced to do work I don’t want just because I feel well on a good day, I want to work but it has to be stuff I want to do other wise my mental state suffers, and being poked and prodded to do work is just putting pressure on people which they don’t need when they are ill, they need to get well first.

me: Yes, the power should sit with the person who has the difficulty as they are best placed to know their own limits. But lots of people want to get back into it- even feel that forced inactivity makes them worse, so lets not assume that this is all part of a sinister way to shove everyone off benefits- I genuinely want to have this conversation and hope to develop a DPULO to respond to this.

me: A bit like this, http://www.taskrabbit.com/?

I make stuff at home I have about one good week in 3 where I manage to do stuff, the rest of the time I’m away with the fairy’s with anxiety much of the time or just resting as I suffer burn out. I would love to make money with my creativity, I have the skills but don’t produce enough of anything to make a living at this time.

Not an employment agency Claire they are a cost to the employers but a consortium of employers themself’s. More in the lines of a sponsorship employment.

yes in effect but for projects, businesses etc . My friend is a project manager, he has a tutorial guide to write, he doesn’t have time to do it but it has to be done before the project goes live. so he thought if he could assign it to an agency, who then finds the right person or offers it up to its clients and they say yes. then as long at is done by the end of the project say in 1 months time it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as its done. there must be loads of tasks that need doing but no point employing 1 person for what is ordinarily a half-day job but to us is a big thing..

me: I was thinking WE could develop our own “agency” and supply people to work on projects? as part of the recovery process? would have to check out with DWP etc how it would work- but there should be a way of ensuring self-employment as a way for people to do some limited work, with Working Tax Credits as a back-up?

i have mobility DLA, but atm i’m too anxious to go somewhere that i don’t know at all. we could also do with drop-in centres for people who are fighting self-harm urges where they can get support and company. they could also have the ingredients to make that cake that the care team suggested you try …

an agency run by and for people with physical and mental health problems would be great.

Much of those things are already in place from the point of being a hospital patient to work therapy especially in my area any ways.

Not sure self-employment is the way forward especially with all the complexity of paperwork. Many simply wont be able to handle that.

if you have a problem with authority of any sort be self-employed, is an option, you can always get other people to do the paper work

The costs involved in forming agency’s will out weigh purpose and eventually fail.

At least if employers themself’s set this up people will have confidence that those employers are going to provide supportive environments from the outset.

me: I hope it’s okay with you guys, I’m capturing this (anonymised) conversation to keep it on record on my blog at claireot.wordpress.com

me: I agree, there are costs involved. It would be important to ensure we got funded to cover those costs. I think you’re right, we would have to get “sign up” from employers to provide work, but perhaps this would be an extension of the “Mindful Employer” project, or simply as part of their drive to reflect the diversity of the populations they work with?

An example. 33 employment positions I’ve been through in the past maintaining employment due to illness has been the biggest barrier. 18 of those employment positions had been with the same employer this despite walking out on that employer each of those 18 times due to having an illness. In between each of those employment positions faced sanctions of benefits time and time again. On the balance due to the sanctions it wasn’t actually worth carrying on with trying to gain employment as monies over the year balanced out no more than benefits any way.

me: yes, I think this experience is one many people will have shared. We started to work on this at the “Benefits Camp Hackday”. Our team were prototyping an app to use to enable people to show on a weekly basis what work they were able to do, and get their benefits calculated for weeks when they needed more support.

some where that would help do their paper work would encourage more people to start-up for themselves, and if someone failed to earn enough one week and some sort of system that paid and made up for the bad weeks would be good.

Very difficult to calculate an illness Claire one can be ill for months on end with no break then maybe only have a couple of good days. especially if part of the illness is that one is not able to measure time or unaware of time going by.

me: Yes, it is xxxxx and that’s why I think flexibility, and not “pushing” people before they’re ready would be important. But equally, it is important to set a “just right” challenge for people (e.g. as an OT that’s what the rehab would be aiming for) to help people along in their recovery. Perhaps what you’re picking up here is another, separate need, for early access to increased support when you feel like it’s slipping back again? Is that an accurate interpretation of what you’re saying?

Employer sponsorship at minimum based on existing individuals levels of benefits as an outset. With further sponsorship being paid above an achieved hours gained. With all sponsorship based on the level of minimum wage.

me: Hmm, I think this would need some thinking through. I’m not clear what employers would see that as a “good deal” for them, and it sounds a bit like “Workfare Plus”, can we have a bit of a think about how that would be attractive to employers to sign up?

I’d love to help in anyway I can and I think it’s a fantastic idea x

Far from workfare. If a group of employers came together and employed one individual in a coup sponsorship it would actually be cheaper for them all round paying the rate of minimum wage.

In another group, asking the same question,

having bosses who are supportive when you are going thru depression i had to walk from my job because i was not getting any support at all it was on ly when i did what i did then the support came but it was little bit late

me: That’s a great point. So, could a service be provided that helps employees to approach their mental health needs with their employers/ and a complementary service that educates employers how to manage sickness/ support for employees with mental health be part of the package (and stuff about Equality Act etc)? Could it be this is delivered by people who have been through it, who could call on staff expertise as needed? Or just staff? Or just peers?

i think bosses need to be sent on awareness courses to pick up on the first signs of depression it would have helped me big style if i was given the help from the get go i really would like to help others who are going thru what i went thru would like some more info claire it’s so good that your able to help people i wanna do the same maybe volunteering

me: I think for anyone with long-term illness or experience of mental distress, there’s so much we can offer to others who are going down the same road. And you’re right, there’s so much we could do to raise awareness for employers about how to retain staff who become well. Or better still, how to put things in place to protect their workers from becoming ill, if at all possible! So, I see there being a training need (we could deliver to employers) an advice need (for people going through it or carers) and a peer support or “buddy” need (to keep you going when times are tough)- but access to volunteering and even paid work opportunities to get involved with this stuff, not just sharing our stories for free.

I’m serious about this project. It’s clear to me that people with experiences of distress have every right to be involved in service re-design and they have valuable skills and experiences to contribute. I’m actively continuing to continue this conversation, and I would love to hear your views in the comments. Do feel free to comment anonymously if you prefer.


I am an Occupational Therapist, who writes about health, particularly mental health. I am interested in social media and Web 2.0, and where these technological advances can support wellness and health.

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Posted in Commons, Occupational Therapy, Recovery
2 comments on “What would a “Recovery Hub” look like?
  1. kenyatta2009 says:

    Reblogged this on A Little Local Color.

  2. Katie says:

    Thanks for that post Claire, it’s inspired some interesting thoughts for me… I’m an OT currently working in Primary Care as a ‘Mental Health Worker’ but I’m also really interested in social inclusion, occupational justice etc and am involved in the beginnings of trying set-up some sort of community hub type thing through an organisation called Oasis Trust. Just wondering where you’re based and what the facebook page is where the discussion is happening?

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I'm an OT called Claire. I write about health, particularly mental health, and also about Social Media and Web 2.0 technology. I am particularly interested where these two fields overlap.
I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.

TWIM Blog Awards 2012
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Kred top 50 Health Bloggers
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  • @Naomi_Barrow assimilation is not, nor can ever be, inclusion x 5 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow it's an assimilationist view of diversity: everybody is welcome who displays the exact behaviours of dominant group 5 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow it *looks* more diverse, e.g. Muslim woman, but do we see any different behaviours e.g. Regular praying? 5 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow what do you think? Could *any* disability remain hidden through days that start at 5.30am until 11pm plus? 5 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow "invisible" disabilities don't tend to remain invisible when living with someone 24/7, only on casual acquaintance? 5 hours ago

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