Over the past several decades, mental health care has increasingly privileged models of resilience and recovery, alongside and as part of shifts away from (partial) de-institutionalization, towards the newly preferred model of ‘community-based’ care. Though such shifts have largely been initiated through the resistance of those who have been psychiatrized, these new models of care have now been co-opted within a number of mental health care systems. Through this appropriation, resilience and recovery have come to be incorporated into systems of medicalized mental health care. Resilience and recovery have thus been re-figured: psychiatric experts now iterate that through recovery and resilience those who are deemed to have disordered minds can live ‘meaningful lives’ despite the ostensible permanence of their ‘illnesses,’ thus working to deny the possibility of a kind of recovery that would place ‘patients’ or ‘clients’ outside the remit of medical authority. Whereas 20 years ago ‘resilience’ and ‘recovery’ were harnessed as an organized means for psychiatric survivors to avert the medical system through peer knowledge and support, they are now harnessed as a means for incorporating psychiatric survivors into medical systems, and to making them responsible for their adherence to prescribed ways of governing their interior lives. In the process, bio-medical and psychosocial models have been drawn together in novel configurations, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), positive psychology, and the like. Whole populations and societies are being targeted as these models move from solely treating those deemed mentally ill, towards responsibilizing all members of a given population or society for their mental health and well-being.
Mental health models based on resilience and recovery are being instituted in a number of sub-national, national and supra-national settings with the aspiration of creating healthy, happy and productive populations. These processes are incredibly expansive, and are targeting numerous populations in a wide array of spaces. Examples abound. Mental health care within national health services are being revamped, through, for instance, the newly formed Mental Health Commission of Canada, and the UK NHS’s recent systemic turn to CBT. Resilience and recovery also figure within the mental health programming of various sub-national organizations, from schools, to universities, to militaries, amongst others. Resilience and recovery models have also figured in International Organizations, including the World Health Organization’s 2001 world health report on
Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope, which advocates the integration of neuromedicine and behavioural science, while targeting former post-colonial nations, without also acknowledging psychiatry’s role in imperialism. Such activities are being contested within psy expert communities, as well as resisted by psychiatric survivor and mad pride movements, which have worked to politicize the appropriation of resilience and recovery from psychiatric survivor communities. Such resistance works to re-position mental health, resilience, and recovery, not as matters under the domain of medicine or illness, but as matters of social justice, recognition, and difference.