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The concept of ‘recovery’ has become a key aspect of mental health policy in many Western countries, especially where mental health legislation or policy is under review: e.g. New Zealand (Mental Health Commission NZ, 2001), England (Repper, 2000), Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2006) and Ireland (Mental Health Commission, 2006).

Historically in the early 20th century the treatment of mental disorder focused mainly, although not exclusively, on the containment of mental illness - doing things to patients, or for them. But gradually the assumption that professionals could ‘fix’ mental illness, waned and was increasingly overtaken by the view that people should participate in, if not actually lead, their own ‘recovery’ (Davidson and Strauss, 1992).


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