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What is a Recovery College?


There are a number of Recovery Colleges running across the country. Recovery Colleges offer educational courses about mental health and recovery which are designed to increase students' knowledge and skills and to help them feel more confident in self-management of their own mental health and well-being.

For a person, with lived experience of mental ill health, this may help them to take control and become an expert in their own well-being and recovery and move on with their life despite their mental health challenges. This will hopefully help them to achieve or work towards whatever is meaningful in their lives.

People may use the college as an alternative to mental health services, alongside support offered from mental health services or to help them move out of mainstream mental health services.


 A Therapeutic Approach

  • Strays beyond formal therapy sessions and becomes the overarching paradigm

  • Transforms all activities into therapies – work therapy, gardening therapy etc

  • Problems are defined, and the type of therapy is chosen, by the professional ‘expert’

  • Maintains the power imbalances and reinforces the belief that all expertise lies with the professionals

 An Educational Approach

  • Helps people recognise and make use of their talents and resources

  • Assists people in exploring their possibilities and developing their skills

  • Supports people to achieve their goals and ambitions

  • Staff become coaches who help people find their own solutions

  • Students choose their own courses, work out ways of making sense of (and finding meaning in) what has happened and become experts in managing their own lives



From Day centre

  • Patient or client:

“I am just a mental patient”

  • Therapist
  • Referral
  • Professional assessment, care planning, clinical notes and review process
  • Professionally facilitated groups
  • Prescription:

“This is the treatment you need”

  • Referral to social groups
  • Discharge
  • Segregation

To Recovery College

  • Student:  

“I am just the same as everyone else”

  • Tutor
  • Registration
  • Co-production of a personal learning plan, including learning support agreed by the student
  • Education seminars, workshops and courses
  • Choice:

“Which of these courses interest you?”

  • Making friends with fellow students
  • Graduation
  • Integration