Mark Ragins believes there are four important things an environment must have to facilitate mental health recovery.
1. Relationships, as it is very difficult to recover alone. This is a little more complicated than you might think, as many people distance themselves from someone with mental health problems. A clinician may do this by talking about the illness rather than the person.
People must commit themselves to having a normal conversation with a person with mental health problems.
2. Inclusion, a person with mental health problems needs to be part of normal life. They need to be part of family gatherings, of work settings and social settings. If a person is excluded from life, it is much more difficult to recover.
3. Compassion, this means that a person’s heart must go out to you, not feeling sorry for you, but actually to know what is like to be you. They need to be empathetic. An environment needs people who see the world from the side of people with mental health problems.
4. Acceptance, people need to accept someone with a mental health problem just as they are, as a person with symptoms of a mental health problem.
Mark points out that whilst many people might accept a person in a wheelchair or with Down’s syndrome working in a store, far fewer accept someone with a mental illness in the same situation. Wouldn’t it be nice if that attitude changed? Many more people would recover.