206494 Public Mental Health: A Capabilities Approach to Social Recovery

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:28 PM

Mary Jane Alexander, PhD , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY
Kim Hopper, PhD , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, 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 capability 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: The panel presents early results from the research portfolio of an NIMH-funded Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts that applies the capabilities approach to psychiatric disability, bringing an ‘assisted development' perspective to public mental health. These studies use 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 (employment, social affiliation and shelter; community integration; literacy), the recovery potential in Mental Health Court practices, and the utility of capabilities to inform and study innovative user run programs. This presentation provides a brief overview of the framework's utility in assessing opportunities available to people with severe psychiatric disabilities for lives they have reason to value.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the capabilities approach 2. Evaluate the application of capabilities to social recovery in the context of psychiatric disability 3. Assess the role of community participation in the capabilities approach

Keywords: Recovery, Mental Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Principal Investigator NIMH sponsored 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.