Case Synopsis

Recovery colleges are cocreated and codeveloped programs and services that mainly focus on increasing community integration and improving the well-being of people who have mental health concerns. Recovery colleges originated in England in 2009, with the first college established at the South West London Recovery College in London. Currently, there is no general consensus about what constitutes a recovery college. The primary focus of a recovery college is to provide a safe space where people who have mental illnesses and/or problematic substance use can lead their own journey to recovery. Eight components are used to define a recovery college (Perkins et al., 2012):

  1. cocreation and codelivery with health care practitioners and service users at every level
  2. delivery of programming from a physical location
  3. operating the program using college principles of having students select their own courses
  4. inclusive programs for all
  5. personal tutors available to assist by offering information
  6. not considered a substitute for treatment and traditional assessment
  7. not considered a substitute for mainstream colleges
  8. operations and culture of the college reflect recovery principles

Because the efficacy, literature, research, and evaluation around recovery colleges are still considerably new, there are several unknowns when it comes to creating these colleges. There are no standardized regulations or guidelines for developing such programs, which can lead to the creation of colleges that may not be suitable and programs that may have inconsistencies and gaps. The new recovery colleges emerging worldwide have expanded so quickly that many are no longer created for their initial intent and instead are being transformed into something that is very different from the original framework for mental health recovery.

This case highlights the importance of stakeholder and community engagement and collaboration in a cocreation context and will examine the positive and negative outcomes that can arise from such collaboration. The case has readers explore stakeholder and community engagement and collaboration for recovery college development by using Social-Ecological theory and cocreation theory, and by determining how these theories can shape various approaches to community and stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

Case Objectives

  1. Identify, list, and prioritize the stakeholders involved in the planning and creation of a recovery college as contributors, influencers, or beneficiaries. Be able to create a needs assessment and a stakeholder matrix (determine the most appropriate—e.g., power interest matrix, stakeholder analysis matrix, or stakeholder assessment matrix).
  2. Recognize, understand, and apply a toolkit and collaboration and stakeholder engagement concepts for creating recovery colleges.
  3. Identify and understand how lived experience frameworks and cocreation compared with coproduction frameworks can assist with stakeholder engagement and program development.
  4. Understand how social cognitive theory can tie into lived experience and cocreation frameworks.
  5. Identify power dynamics and hierarchies of engagement for all stakeholders.
  6. Explore and recommend various action plans and resolutions for stakeholder engagement.

Case Study Questions

  1. Who are the stakeholders in this case?
  2. How can stakeholder engagement mitigate conflict between various stakeholders and differing organizational agendas?
  3. How can an organization collaborate with various stakeholders for recovery college development through cocreation? Who will be leading and guiding the meetings?
  4. Identify and describe the hierarchy of engagement with stakeholders. What are the power dynamics?
  5. What strategies can be utilized for effective engagement and development of programming?


Cocreation, coproduction, collaboration, lived experience, mental health, mental health recovery, needs assessment, public health leadership, recovery college, social ecological theory, stakeholder engagement



Recommended Citation

Xue, Q., Johnson, A., & McKinley, G. (2020). Recovery Through Education: An Integrative Approach to Mental Health for the People, by the People in: McKinley, G. & Speechley, M. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2020. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.