Whilst there is growing evidence to suggest that the recovery college (RC) environment supports students towards their mental health recovery (Meddings et al., 2015b), students’ initial motivations for engagement, alongside factors that may hinder or support attendance, have yet to be exclusively explored. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
All new RC students were invited to take part in a semi-structured interview three months following their enrolment. Four participants completed an interview which were later analysed using thematic analysis.
Four themes emerged within analysis: making the effort; being “too unwell”; friendly environment; and glad I came. These are discussed alongside the literature, and it is proposed that whilst there is a substantial struggle involved in engagement with a RC, likely related to mental health and social factors, the RC environment, peer support and support of the tutors helps students to overcome the impact of this.
Due to the small sample size and exploratory stance of this study, additional research into the complexities around engagement with RCs is strongly recommended. Only students who had attended at least one RC course chose to participate in this study, therefore an under-researched population of non-attendees may provide a valuable contribution to further understanding.
This is one of the first studies to qualitatively explore factors which may support, or hinder, initial and ongoing engagement with a RC. It is proposed that a greater understanding of these important issues could be used to increase RC accessibility and inclusion.
Harper, L. and McKeown, M. (2018), "Why make the effort? Exploring recovery college engagement", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 27-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-10-2017-0043Download as .RIS
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