Mental illness and social exclusion: An evaluation of a recovery-oriented rehabilitation programme

Caterina Balenzano, Giuseppe Moro

Using mixed methods, the paper investigated the coherence, effectiveness and social impact of a recovery-oriented programme (MeNS) implemented in a southern Italian mental health service. First, the study analysed how recovery markers were adopted by MeNS staff using interviews and focus group discussions. Second, a two-group evaluation design compared 50 MeNS beneficiaries and 100 patients treated by traditional rehabilitation paths in terms of recovery, using both Recovery Style Questionnaire and a Recovery Assessment Scale. Finally, the beneficiaries’ quality of life and the programme’s social impact were explored with data from a focus group with beneficiaries and journal articles on MeNS and social stigma. The results highlighted that MeNS is a recovery-oriented programme capable of confronting patient stigmatisation and promoting their recovery and quality of life by a relational social work paradigm. The implications for health policies and practices were discussed, underlining the need to design services effective in promoting user quality of life and social inclusion.


Relational approach, recovery, mental illness, psychiatric rehabilitation, programmes’ evaluation.