Stakeholder views on a recovery-oriented psychiatric rehabilitation art therapy program in a rural Australian mental health service: a qualitative description Academic Article uri icon


  • Recovery-oriented care is a guiding principle for mental health services in Australia, and internationally. Recovery-oriented psychiatric rehabilitation supports people experiencing mental illness to pursue a meaningful life. In Australia, people with unremitting mental illness and psychosocial disability are often detained for months or years in secure extended care facilities. Psychiatric services have struggled to provide rehabilitation options for residents of these facilities. Researchers have argued that art participation can support recovery in inpatient populations. This study addressed the research question: Is there a role for the creative arts in the delivery of recovery-oriented psychiatric rehabilitation for people with enduring mental illness and significant psychosocial disability detained in a secure extended care unit?The study had two major aims: to explore the experiences of consumers detained in a rural Australian secure extended care unit of an art therapy project, and to examine the views of nurse managers and an art therapist on recovery-oriented rehabilitation programs with regard to the art therapy project. A qualitative descriptive design guided the study, and a thematic network approach guided data analysis. Ethics approval was granted from the local ethics committee (AU/1/9E5D07). Data were collected from three stakeholders groups. Five consumers participated in a focus group; six managers and the art therapist from the project participated in individual interviews.The findings indicate that consumer participants benefitted from art participation and wanted more access to rehabilitation-focussed programs. Consumer participants identified that art making provided a forum for sharing, self-expression, and relationships that built confidence, absent in the regular rehabilitation program. Nurse manager and the art therapist participants agreed that art participation was a recovery-oriented rehabilitation tool, however, systemic barriers thwarted its provision.The transformation of mental health services towards a recovery orientation requires commitment from service leaders to provide evidence-based programs. Psychiatric rehabilitation programs based on local need should be included in public mental health services. This study supports the use of art-based rehabilitation programs for people detained in rural secure extended care facilities. Introducing these programs into clinical practice settings can improve the consumer experience and support organisational culture change towards a recovery orientation.

publication date

  • 2015