Room 2019, Floor 2U, Claure Fagin Hall
Nancy Tomes, Stoney Brook University
*Co-hosted with Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing
Recovery as concept, model and movement in the mental health field: the challenge of writing a 'history of the present'
Since the 1970s, the recovery concept has become central to efforts to empower people with severe and persistent mental illness so that they can live independent and meaningful lives. Advocates of the recovery model stress the need for supported employment, supported housing, strong community networks and perhaps most importantly, the support and leadership of other people "in recovery" who have lived experience of mental illness. My talk will explore both the history and the historiography of the recovery model in the mental health field. I will discuss how the approaches that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s differed from previous attempts at "after care" for ex-mental patients; I will also explore their overlap with contemporary developments in addiction treatment and disability rights organizing. Finally, I want to talk about criticisms of the recovery movement and its place in Reagan era "reforms" of the welfare state to raise questions about how historical scholarship intersects with contemporary advocacy concerns and policy issues.