We are planning to start a Recovery Forum at Birmingham City University. In January I contributed a post about the Hearing Voices module that had been running throughout the autumn term. The course gave students an introduction to the work of Marius Romme and Sandra Escher, whose work has inspired the Hearing Voices Network. There are now over 170 Hearing Voices groups in the UK.
The Hearing Voices module encourages participants to begin using Romme and Escher’s Maastricht Interview Schedule with service users. The Maastricht Interview Schedule is not a quick assessment tool, but rather a way of helping people to talk about voice-hearing. We also discussed ways that people have found to cope with problematic voice-hearing; and we talked about group work led by voice-hearers themselves, that has been shown to be effective in offering support, hope and meaning to people.
The underlying premise of this work is that voice-hearing itself is not a problem which needs to be eliminated. Many voice-hearers consider their voices to be positive, or at least an acceptable part of their experience. Romme and Escher’s work helps people to talk about their voice-hearing experience, to accept that the voices are real – and may have meaning based on life experiences. This respect for the experience of the person is at the heart of the recovery movement.
The recovery process according to the Mental Health Foundation
- provides a holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just their symptoms
- believes recovery from severe mental illness is possible
- is a journey rather than a destination
- does not necessarily mean getting back to where you were before
- happens in ‘fits and starts’ and, like life, has many ups and downs
- calls for optimism and commitment from all concerned
- is profoundly influenced by people’s expectations and attitudes
- requires a well organised system of support from family, friends or professionals
- requires services to embrace new and innovative ways of working
The recovery movement has been gaining strength within and outside of mental health services. Many people with the recovery movement are challenging the traditional language and power structures of psychiatry – and the recovery model is as much user-led and influenced by professionals.
In order to support those who have attended the Hearing Voices module to continue to work collaboratively with voice-hearers, and according to the recovery model we are setting up a Recovery Forum at Birmingham City University. We anticipate the first session to take place in July 2009. There will be more details to follow. Members of university and trust staff with an interest in this area are also warmly invited to attend.