Health care reform based on an empowerment model of recovery by people with psychiatric disabilities

Daniel B. Fisher, University of Massachusetts Medical School

At the time of publication, Daniel Fisher was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


People with psychiatric disabilities have articulated a model of recovery that encourages their empowerment by emphasizing consumer-defined goals, liberty, self-control of symptoms, peer support, elimination of discrimination, and provision of adequate material and social supports. Application of this model to health care reform requires public education to fight discrimination, an end to the use of involuntary interventions in the name of treatment, further development of services run by survivors-consumers and other alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization, and increased involvement of survivors-consumers in decisions related to their treatment and support. To promote empowerment of people with mental health problems, health care reform should include affordable, universal coverage without exclusions for preexisting high-risk conditions, parity of mental health benefits with other benefits, which includes coverage for voluntary services only, and incentives for funding long-term care, alternatives to hospitalization, and holistic healing services.