Charting a New Path: Restorative Practice in Mental Health Settings

In an enlightening session, Catriona Harwood, renowned for her extensive work in Restorative Practices and Social Work, along with Michael Power, the Director of Queensland Health Victim Support Service, shed light on the evolving domain of restorative practices in mental health settings. This intricate intertwining of the restorative approach within the sensitive domain of mental health care holds immense potential and offers fresh perspectives for professionals in the healthcare sector.

Harwood’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring. With a formidable background in NGO disability and community development across both the UK and Australia, her dexterity lies not just in her experience but also in her ability to marry social work values with restorative practices. Her belief in self-determination, empowerment, and creating spaces for unbridled voices has always been at the forefront of her mission. This commitment was evident as she spoke about the challenges and joys of introducing restorative approaches in mental health settings and driving cultural change.

The central theme of the presentation was understanding the congruence between mental health care and restorative practices. Both Harwood and Power explored the myriad reasons that make restorative practices a perfect fit for the mental health sector. The very essence of these practices, which center around understanding, healing, and rebuilding, mirrors the goals of mental health interventions.

Yet, the path to integrating these practices is fraught with challenges. The duo delved deep into the barriers encountered when introducing restorative methods within a healthcare setting. Factors ranging from institutional resistance, lack of awareness, and apprehensions about novel methods emerged as significant roadblocks.

However, every challenge also presented an opportunity. The speakers invited others involved in similar implementations to share their insights, creating an enriching dialogue about potential enablers in this journey. Collaborative discussions unearthed innovative solutions and ways to surmount these obstacles, emphasizing the value of collective knowledge and experience.

What stood out was the undeniable synergy between Harwood and Power. While Harwood brought to the table her expertise from the realms of restorative justice, youth, and NGO-led mental health support, Power’s leadership role in victim support provided a broader perspective, ensuring a holistic approach to the subject.

Listeners walked away with a robust understanding of how restorative practices could serve as powerful tools in mental health care. By focusing on repairing harm, fostering understanding, and promoting healing, restorative practices complement the therapeutic goals of mental health interventions.

Moreover, the session underscored the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. As professionals from different backgrounds come together, the scope for innovation and holistic care only expands, promising better outcomes for patients and the healthcare community.

In conclusion, Catriona Harwood and Michael Power’s presentation was a beacon for those venturing into the intricate world of mental health care. By showcasing the potential of restorative practices in this realm, they not only broadened horizons but also kindled hope for a more inclusive, comprehensive, and restorative approach to mental health care.