Recovery by starting from scratch

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Dr Leanne Craze

Mental Health Training Approach

‘At HETI, we are passionate about teaching a recovery-based approach from the ‘ground up’, because we know it can make a vast difference to peoples healthcare experience.” Dr. Leanne Craze discusses this approach, which prioritises humility, openness and the ability to always remain inquisitive.

I always say that as long as we know we don't know everything, we're doing okay - because if we want to make a difference in people's lives we are compelled to bring an openness to learn, and the desire to help people to help themselves.

It starts with the people we work with

This recovery-oriented approach requires humility and is void of any ego. It recognises that mental illness is challenging enough and the person’s sense of control is often threatened. What we teach at HETI is that if we, as practitioners, can make more room for the people we work with to bring their own views into the conversation, and explain what they think is best for themselves, then we can combine our clinical expertise and life experience with theirs; to put it all back together more positively.

Re-inventing the way we teach

We teach this recovery-based approach across HETI’s Higher Education postgraduate courses because we believe the traditional tertiary healthcare model can miss something important - while you can improve symptoms and function in a person experiencing mental health challenges, you may not be improving that person’s quality of life or their ability to actually achieve the goals they want to achieve.

The question we encourage our students to ask the people they work with is: What do you want for your own recovery, and how can I help you get there through my knowledge and resources? Then we work with each student to shape this approach within the context of their workplace.

Opportunity through change

This is a process, and it can require our students to overhaul much of their clinical thinking and start from scratch in some ways. There can be resistance at the beginning for students who are already established in their workplace - because we’re often challenging their assumptions, and what they see as the truth. But this can ultimately lead to a far more powerful journey for the student.

Through this recovery-based model, our students can go on to lead cultural change in their workplace; to show their peers how this ultimately benefits the people they work with, and in many cases it helps to put policy into practice. What we teach is as much about recovery as it is about inspiring leadership in the workplace.

A deeper conversation

Recovery is about embracing and working with people - rather than working on them, or even for them. It is not something that can be tacked onto the end of an existing course. This is why our courses [link to our courses]have been designed from the ground up; to view every single module through a recovery-based, community-led lens.

This approach demands the very best in healthcare, and of us as practitioners. A recovery-oriented approach cracks open a much deeper conversation, where challenging questions need to be asked for the sake of the people we work with.

Questions like: ‘What if we didn't have to control the symptoms in two days?’ Or ‘What if there was a way of keeping people safe until we found out what was going on - to really take the time to learn what would help best, and what would work best?’ Or, ‘What if there was more time for talking?’ Or even, ‘what if there were actions other than to give medication as a first-line response?’

So, let’s stay inquisitive for everyone’s sake - not only in HETI’s learning spaces but in our students’ workplaces. If through my work with HETI I can encourage our students to remain humble and prepared to learn from every single person they work with over the course of their career, then I feel we are in a better position to benefit healthcare in the way it deserves. Only then - with those values in place - can true recovery begin.


Applied Mental Health Studies

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Psychiatric Medicine

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