Recovery in mental health policy: good strategy or bad rhetoric?

Stephen Tilley, Sue Cowan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    This article explores current positions on ‘recovery’ in Scottish mental
    health policy and the practical limitations of these positions from a
    rhetorical perspective. It is not our intention to conduct a formal policy
    analysis but rather to open up an argumentative space for thinking
    critically about recovery. In adopting a rhetorical perspective, we are
    concerned not with the quality of evidence in support of recovery per se,
    but with the quality of the arguments and the manner in which these have
    been produced, reproduced and promulgated to support recovery in terms
    of its adoption in policy and practice within the Scottish context. We sketch
    the background to the ‘case for’ recovery in Scotland by drawing upon key
    policy documents, referring to the public mental health focus in Scotland’s
    mental health policy, and indicate how policy and practice on recovery
    have been evaluated in that context. We then explore the value of critical
    dialogue by exploring the potential limitations of the case for recovery
    by considering hope and the medical model as examples of themes in
    recovery policy and practice. In light of this analysis, we argue that while
    the policy and its implementation might be understood as a good strategy
    for addressing major issues in mental health, it is bad rhetoric to the extent
    that it limits argument, and therefore practical deliberation, about
    recovery. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our argument
    for mental health practitioners, for whom a critical stance on health policy
    is a necessary resource.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-104
    Number of pages10
    JournalCritical Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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