Mind Colloquium Series -- 16th September 2011
Presented by Mind in collaboration with VICSERV and the Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne.
Networks, resources and agencies: On the role of 'enabling places' in facilitating recovery from mental illness.
Speaker: Cameron Duff, PhD
Monash Fellow, Social Sciences and Health Research Unit
The notion of 'place' is becoming increasingly important in international debates regarding the role of 'community participation' and/or 'social inclusion' in promoting recovery for people living with a mental illness. Drawing from research in diverse fields, this presentation introduces the notion of 'enabling places' in an attempt to clarify the links between community participation, social inclusion and recovery. In illustrating this model, I will present select findings derived from a series of studies recently completed in and around Melbourne. Featuring ethnographic, film and qualitative methods, these studies documented an array of local enabling places, ranging from neighbourhood parks and community services to less familiar sites such as cemeteries, street-scapes, cafes and hair-dressing salons. The therapeutic value of these places was found to derive from the distinctive informal resources available in each setting or place. Three categories of informal resources were identified: social, affective and material resources. It was found that individuals and groups draw on these resources in support of various activities and relationships vital to the promotion of recovery, health and wellbeing. These include the development of community and a sense of personal "belonging"; the extension of social networks and social connectedness; the development of personal competencies and the promotion of autonomy; as well as improved access to services and community supports. In each instance, the social, affective and material resources available in local enabling places facilitate the ongoing work of recovery and wellbeing. The paper closes with a discussion of the ways these informal resources might be mobilised in the delivery of novel community based mental health initiatives.