Peter Bates > Recovery and Recovery Colleges

Recovery and Recovery Colleges

As I am facilitating the Lived Experience Advisory Panel for the Recollect 2 study of Recovery Colleges, I decided to lodge some of my own and other people’s resources that relate to recovery and Recovery Colleges on this webpage. There are many useful resources on the Research into Recovery website.

Honouring storytellers

A key tenet of the Recovery College movement is to recognise the value that accrues when a person tells others about their mental health challenges. Relevant materials include:


The co-productive relationship between the expert by experience and the expert by training is examined in the following documents that study its use in other contexts, but may have something to say to the task of delivering a class in the Recovery College:

Promoting inclusive lifestyles

Despite being open to a range of students, a Recovery College is still considered to fall into the ‘red’ category on the Inclusion Traffic Lights. A potential role for Recovery Colleges is to support mainstream further and higher education providers to become more responsive to students with mental health issues, while supporting individual students to transition from use of the Recovery College to mainstream learning providers. There are many resources elsewhere on this website that address this agenda, including the training materials set out in:

  • Bates P (2008) Connecting with Communities. Module 6 in Forrest S & Bradstreet S (2008) Realising Recovery learning materials Scottish Recovery Network and NHS Education for Scotland.

Outstanding questions

The bullet points below simply list a few questions that might be worth further exploration.

  • How do you inspire hope in another person?
  • How have further education colleges changed after a local Recovery College has been established in their patch? Have they become more or less accessible?
  • What have Recovery Colleges done to support students with learning disabilities and autistic students? Specialist classes (such as a class providing an opportunity for recently diagnosed autistic people to share strategies for thriving) are vanishingly rare.
  • Do Recovery Colleges accelerate the process by which friendships outside the mental health community are replaced by friendships within it?
  • Does the ‘user/student’ identity reduce role engulfment or increase it, so that the person identifies primarily as a mental health service user rather than seeing this as no more than one of many identities?

Further reading

This is just a lodging place for papers that I happen to come across on this topic. A much more comprehensive reading list can be found on the Research into Recovery website.

  • Cronin P, Stein-Parbury J, Sommer J & Gill KH (2021) What about value for money? A cost benefit analysis of the South Eastern Sydney Recovery and Wellbeing College, Journal of Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/09638237.2021.1922625
  • Thériault J, Lord M-M, Briand C, Piat M & Meddings S (2020) Recovery Colleges After a Decade of Research: A Literature Review Psychiatric Services 2020 71:9, 928-940
  • Thompson H, Simonds L, Barr S, Meddings S. Recovery colleges: long-term impact and mechanisms of change. Mental Health and Social Inclusion. 2021 Jun 15.