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Japanese health professionals travelled thousands of miles to see a pioneering Dorset initiative which provides education and training for people affected by mental health problems.
Ten delegates from universities and clinical mental health practices in the Asian country attended a special seminar on how Dorset HealthCare’s first Recovery Education Centre (REC) has changed the way care is delivered and people with mental ill health are supported.
They met with the Trust’s Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion Lead Phil Morgan and peer workers at Bournemouth University’s Lansdowne Campus.
Recovery Education Centres are a key part of recovery-focused mental health services. They help people discover a new sense of self meaning and purpose, supporting them to rebuild their lives.
The local REC was launched in 2012 and is delivered by the Dorset Wellbeing and Recovery Partnership, jointly run by Dorset HealthCare and Dorset Mental Health Forum.
Courses are provided at different locations across the county and are co-delivered by professionals and people with lived experience of mental illness.
Phil said: “The focus is for individuals to recognise and develop the skills they need to lead the lives they wish to live. The REC provides them with the tools and skills to help them better understand their experiences, take control and manage their own recovery.
“Traditionally in Japan, mental health services have been based around experts diagnosing and treating people and patients needing to get better, but this can only take them so far - it hasn’t enabled them to build a meaningful life, such as getting jobs or having relationships.”
Back in 2010 there were just two Recovery Education Centres in the UK. That figure has now risen to 70, and the idea has spread internationally to the likes of Italy, Hong Kong and Singapore - but there is still just one in Japan.
Toshiyuki Ueta is Medical Director at Tottori Kosei General Hospital in Japan. He said: “People with mental health problems are often discriminated against in our country, but Recovery Education Centres are a key way of breaking down barriers.
“The idea of involving people with lived experiences in the treatment of others is extremely effective. We are really keen to carry out more research in a bid to introduce more centres back home, and it is great to travel to Dorset to see such a shining example.”
The visit was part of a two week study tour by the group, organised by the Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change (ImROC) project, and they also visited recovery colleges in London and surrounding areas.