Image from the top of the malvern hills

Welcome to Herefordshire and Worcestershire Wellbeing and Recovery College. 

We are a wellbeing and recovery college made up from a partnership of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, Voluntary and Community Sector organisations (VCS), Public Sector partners and our Experts by Experience across our communities in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Our aim is to increase awareness and understanding of recovery and self-management, while breaking down the stigmas relating to mental health. As mental illness can affect us all, in fact, one in four people will experience a mental  illness at some point in their lives. 

All our courses are co-produced and delivered by experts by experience (people who have personal experience of Mental Health issues), Occupational Therapists, Technical Instructors and working together in partnership with other professionals/staff and organisations.

Our college offers a wide range of learning opportunities with a focus on wellbeing and recovery.  Evidence tells us that by coming together and learning more about health and wellbeing we can make the most of our strengths, talents and resources and feel more confident in managing our own mental health and wellbeing, whether our mental health is good, or not so good.

What do you mean by recovery?

Recovery can mean different things to different people.  It is not always about recovering from an illness, but more so about recovering a life.  And for some people it is about providing the conditions within which people can grow within and beyond what has happened.

"Recovery is about building a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by the person themselves, whether or not there are ongoing symptoms or problems" -  Laurie Davidson and colleagues at Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Recovery is using a strength-based approach that does not focus solely on symptoms and which emphasises resilience and control over life’s challenges to help people with mental health problems move forward, set new goals, and take part in relationships and activities that are meaningful.

Recovery is also often referred to as a process, and some of the important features of the recovery process can be described by the acronym “CHIME”, which stands for:

  • Connectedness
  • Hope and Optimism
  • Identity
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Empowerment

What do you mean by wellbeing?

Wellbeing is ‘how we are doing’ as individuals, it is a way to describe how we feel in ourselves about the things that are affecting how we experience life – quality of life, good physical and mental health, and being part of our communities. It’s about how external conditions affect our lives and how we function in society.

What affects wellbeing is different for everyone. So, no matter how many positive things we have in our lives, if we don’t feel or experience our lives going well, we can’t describe them as truly going well.

What makes a Wellbeing and Recovery College different to other colleges?

A wellbeing and recovery college has a particular focus on creating the right settings and giving people the ability and skills to improve health and wellbeing for themselves or others.

That means raising awareness and understanding of wellbeing and recovery and what it means to each person as well as sharing skills and know-how.

A wellbeing and recovery college offers supportive and encouraging education rather than “therapy”.

What’s the difference between a therapeutic approach and an educational approach?

The college does not offer treatment or co-ordination of care – people are not referred and are free to choose their own course(s) /learning opportunities. People may use the college as an alternative to mental health services, alongside support offered from mental health services or to help them move out of mainstream mental health services.

For a person with lived experience of mental ill health, this may help them to take control and become an expert in their own wellbeing and recovery and move on with their life despite their mental health challenges. This will hopefully help them to achieve or work towards whatever is meaningful in their lives.

Who can access the Wellbeing and Recovery College?

The college is for everyone living in Herefordshire and Worcestershire aged 18 and over with no upper age limit.

You don’t have to be going through mental health challenges yourself, we are here for family members, friends, carers and people who work in related services. 

We are also here for people who are keen to learn more about mental health and wellbeing, or how to keep themselves well and support others. 

Our wellbeing and recovery college is open to all.

Co-production

What is co-production?

Co-production refers to a way of working, whereby everybody works together on an equal basis to create a service or come to a decision that takes into account everybody’s view.

Co-production is an integral element of our Herefordshire and Worcestershire Wellbeing and Recovery College and can be seen at every stage of its development, this has meant experts by profession working alongside experts by experience around the initial planning and design of our Wellbeing and Recovery College.

What do we mean by experts by profession?

We mean people who work in mental health and wellbeing services and in adult learning services

What do we mean by experts by experience?

We mean people who have personal, lived experience of using health, mental health and/or social care services, or of caring for someone who uses those services.

Who are your experts by profession and experts by experience?

Invitations were sent out to a wide group of people which included experts by experience, health professionals and people working in the VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise). Our co-production has included having people with lived experience on the initial steering group and the creation of a ‘Virtual Reference Group’.

There are currently 51 people in this group who are initially responding to consultations via email, however moving forward we will be offering a chance to meet up virtually and when we can, face to face. This co-production process explicitly recognises the expertise of mental health professionals and expertise of lived experience.

What sorts of decisions have been made?

Things like:

  1. Website design: choosing logo, colours and font
  2. Language: for example choosing not to use the word “prospectus” to describe the learning opportunities  as it was felt this might put people off, the preferred choice of wording was “courses and workshops” 

What happens with co-production once the Wellbeing and Recovery College is up and running?

The work is only just beginning, the virtual reference group will continue to evolve and co-production will continue to be embedded in the college, looking ahead this will include things such as:

  1. Training experts by experience to co-facilitate courses and workshops alongside experts by profession
  2. Identifying gaps in delivery working side by side  to design/co-produce courses/workshops to fill the identified gaps
  3. Working with training providers to quality assure and “badge” co-production.