Self-help and self-management are related terms. The basic premise is that they help people play an active role in managing their own mental health and recovery. As we have seen there are a variety of different resources, tools and approaches but it is possible to identify a number of common features.
Control and empowerment
Self-help and self-management tools and approaches are generally designed to help people develop more awareness of their mental health and recovery. They also put control back in the hands of people experiencing difficulties, which helps to empower them.
Self-help and self-management approaches often involve a structured approach, which can be shared in a training or education setting or through self- study. Self-management approaches commonly involve a process of planning and reflection, and encourage people to think through scenarios. This could relate to staying well or to planning for crises and things going wrong.
We have become increasingly aware that self-management approaches are most powerful when people with similar experiences come together to share them. Where this happens through a training type approach, trainers or facilitators sometimes have their own lived experience to share. This obviously creates a good degree of empathy, mutuality and shared learning, and has a lot in common with peer support. This is why sharing and promoting selfhelp and self-management techniques are common features of many Peer Supporter roles.
Approaches developed out with the mental health service system
Self-help and self-management approaches are often developed and shared out with the formal mental health service system. In some cases they are developed in response to a perceived shortcoming in traditional services, although there are exceptions to this:
- Psychosocial Education — an approach largely intended to increase understanding of mental health problems with the aim of developing ‘insight.’ This is a common approach and often takes the form of professionally led group learning. Models based on encouraging insight have been criticised for their potential to hinder recovery by encouraging people to accept and adhere to psychiatric labels.
- The use of Advanced Statements — these are legal documents linked to the Mental Health Care and Treatment (Scotland) Act 2003 that are designed to provide people with a say in their care and treatment even at times of crisis and greatest difficulty.