206195 Session Abstract: ‘Public Mental Health: A Capabilites Approach to Social Recovery'

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:30 PM

Mary Jane Alexander, PhD , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangebury, NY
To inform policies and practices that promote recovery – lives worth living in their fullest sense - research must go beyond symptom reduction and service utilization as domains of inquiry. Nobel economist Amartya Sen's Capabilities Approach, a framework originally aimed at international development, provides a comprehensive framework to ask questions about how personal capacity, social resources and policy, law and custom interact to provide individuals with a set of opportunities they can act on to do and be what they value. Community participation – a key principle in the capabilities approach – here refers to people with psychiatric disabilities. Rationale: Papers here present early results from the research portfolio of an NIMH-funded Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts that applies “Capabilities” to psychiatric disability, bringing an ‘assisted development' perspective to public mental health. Studies used a participatory model to implement methodologies that include multivariate analysis of available national data sets, individual interviews and quasi-ethnography to ask questions about key functionings for persons with psychiatric disabilities. Papers include: 1) Public Mental Health: A Capabilities Approach to Social Recovery (Alexander, Hopper, Jones); 2) Disparities in Well-Being experienced by Americans with Psychiatric Conditions (Vick, Jones, Mitra, Alexander); 3) MH Courts' Potential for Promoting Recovery (Koerner, Pratt Yanos); 4) The Meaning of Literacy for People with Psychiatric Disability (Lincoln, Wallace, Doran); 5) Real Opportunities for Community Integration for MH Consumers Living in Independent Housing (Stefancic, Yanos, Tsemberis); 6) Partners in Recovery: An Ongoing Ethnographic Study of Peer-Run MH Services (Healion, Lewis, Hopper).

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain application of Capabilities approach to public mental health 2. Differentiate opportunities and key functionings for people with psychiatric disabilities 3. Describe use of Capabilities to inform recovery-centered policies. 4. Describe use of Capabilities to inform recovery-centered programs.

Keywords: Participatory Action Research, Recovery

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Principal Investigator, NIMH Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.