New publication: Wellbeing, Recovery and Mental Health

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book called Wellbeing, Recovery and Mental Health, edited by Mike Slade from IMH, Lindsay Oades from Australia and Aaron Jarden from New Zealand. The book brings together two bodies of knowledge – wellbeing and recovery. Wellbeing and ‘positive’ approaches are increasingly influencing many areas of society. Recovery in mental illness has a growing empirical evidence base. For the first time, overlaps and cross-fertilisation opportunities between the two bodies of knowledge are identified.

 Wellbeing, Recovery and Mental Health will be of interest to anyone connected with the mental health system, especially people using and working in services, and clinical and administrative leaders, and those interested in using research from the mental health system in the wider community.

 Mike Slade commented “It has been exciting to bring together expert contributions from around the world. I have learned a lot about enhancing wellbeing in schools (‘positive education’), workplaces, families (‘need-supportive parenting’) and cities (‘urban liveability’). Marshalling the very best evidence from recovery and wellbeing research raises important questions for us all. How much should policy-making be judged by its impact on population wellbeing? If employing peer workers in mental health systems is proving so beneficial, should we be employing people with a criminal history in police forces, or people with experience of homelessness as housing workers? Should wellbeing literacy be taught in schools, alongside traditional numeracy and literacy skills? What would be the impact on society if co-production became the norm?

 Prof Martin Seligman is often described as the ‘father of positive psychology’, and he wrote the foreword to the book. He states that “psychotherapy and drugs as they now are used are half-baked. At their very, very best they remove the internal disabling conditions of life. Removing the disabling conditions, however, is not remotely the same as building the enabling conditions of life. If we want to flourish and to have wellbeing, we must indeed minimize our misery, but in addition we must have positive emotion, meaning, accomplishment, and positive relationships. The skills of flourishing – of having positive emotion, meaning, good work, and positive relationships – are something over and above the skills of minimizing suffering. These skills are documented to build wellbeing and they also may act to relieve psychopathology itself. This volume tells their story.

 The book has been endorsed by international leaders. Prof Larry Davidson (Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University) wrote “This exciting collection of groundbreaking research from around the world shows how hope, recovery, and wellbeing are far better than suffering, misery, and illness as guiding concepts for policy and practice in mental health and beyond, to civil society”. Prof Ken Sheldon (Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri) states “Slade, Oades, and Jarden have fostered a long-overdue conversation within this book – between clinicians focusing on recovery, and positive psychologists focusing on well-being.  Although the first group has traditionally focused on returning clients to baseline, the other group has tried to leave the baseline behind, for new heights of well-being. The upshot of the conversation is this:  That the processes bringing recovery and the processes bringing well-being are much the same, though they have been focused on in isolation. This book also stakes a claim for diversity, and the equal personhood of “victims” needing to “recover” from mental illness.  They are not different from us, it turns out:  they ARE us!”. A/Prof Acacia Parks (Hiram College) identifies that “research has been converging on the idea that positive psychological approaches have great utility for people at risk for and experiencing mental disorders. This book provides a much needed framework for synthesizing that literature and planning ahead for what is sure to be a vibrant and massively impactful field of study“.

 More information about the wellbeing research programme led by Prof Slade is at http://www.researchintorecovery.com/WELLFOCUS, and the publisher’s website is http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/medicine/mental-health-psychiatry-and-clinical-psychology/wellbeing-recovery-and-mental-health?format=PB&isbn=9781107543058.

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