Spandler, Helen and Stickley, Theo
No hope without compassion: the importance of compassion in recovery-focused mental health services.
Journal of Mental Health, 20
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2011.583949
Background: Whilst current policy is replete with recovery language and references to the need for services to create a sense of hope and optimism, there is less understanding about how such hope may be engendered within services. We propose that an understanding of compassion is necessary to
appreciate what actually stimulates hope-inspiring practices.
Aims: An examination of the continuing relevance of compassion to mental health care and an exploration
of its place within modern mental health policy and practice.
Methods: A review of the compassion deficit in mental health care and a critical examination of whether the direction of current mental health policy in the UK is likely to facilitate compassionate care.
Results: Compassion needs to be viewed not merely as an individual expression or property but something which must be nurtured in context, through relationships, cultures and healing environments. However, current mental health policy and practice does not appear to prioritise the development of such contexts.
Conclusion: Attention to fostering compassion would help to shift the language of “recovery” (or “wellbeing”)
beyond the twin dangers of rhetoric and/or imposing preconceived definitions, models or expectations of what recovery “should” be. Therefore, the development of compassionate contexts should have a stronger place in modern mental health practice and policy.
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