What is Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery

What is Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery?

The program created at CerritosCollege was created to fill a need in our community.  There is a severe shortage of mental health workers for a variety of reasons.  The most apparent reason is the stigma that is attached to a mentally ill individual.  This is the idea that the mentally ill are permanently disabled and therefore medication is the only option.  The current treatment plan for the mentally ill includes diagnosis and medication, in which the ultimate goal is to create a symptom-free life for the disordered individual.  This model is the Medical Model and, in short, states that professionals must look for a treatment for the patient.  As a result of this type of training, as professionals, we label and categorize the mentally ill.  This, of course, contributes to the stigma apparent in our society. Further, this model may be inaccurate, as many disordered individuals do not want to be treated or cured.  Finally, although medications do work, we do not yet have all of the knowledge and technology, regarding the physiology and chemistry of these disorders, available to treat and curethe mentally ill.  Therefore, it has been suggested that medications work best in conjunction with psychotherapy.  However some of the current forms of psychotherapy may also be inadequate.

The treatment model that has gained recent attention and success is the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Model for Mental Illness.  This model suggests that mentally ill individuals can be rehabilitated back into society and make a recovery that does not necessarily require the complete relief of symptoms.  In the same way that stroke patients and arthroscopic knee surgery patients can be rehabilitated in order to regain some of their previous abilities, the mentally ill can also be rehabilitated to rejoin the local community and the society at large, with or without medication.  The recovery model is useful in treating the WHOLE person, as opposed to treating just the mental illness.  Many individuals with physical ailments continue to live a very full life, with some difficulties, that with training may become minimal.  Mental illness can be viewed in the same way.  There is more to the individual than their illness: the client is not the illness. 

The major obstacles to incorporating this model in the current mental health system are 1) an unwarranted belief that medications are the only treatment for mental illness and 2) there are not enough trained individuals to treat the mentally ill through Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery.  Although these challenges do exist, and may not be fully conquerable, there is hope.  The US Presidential New Freedom Committee, established by President Bush in 2000, in their report of 2003, has recommended that the current course of treatment for mentally ill individuals is inadequate.  This committee offers several recommendations that could possibly result in a complete change of the mental health system, from a medical model perspective to a rehabilitation-recovery model perspective.  In addition, the California Mental Health Planning Council, an advisory board to the California Mental Health Committee, has made the same suggestions for the state of California.