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Personal-recovery and agency-enhancing client work in the field of mental health and social rehabilitation: Perspectives of persons with lived experience and specialists



STUDY I: Narusson, D. (2013). The Disabled persons and rehabilitation specialists dialogue within the rehabilitation assessment and planning process: Analysis based on assessment case reports. Journal of Social Policy and Social Work in Transition, 2, 10–30, DOI:10.1921/5304030202.


STUDY II: Narusson, D. & Wilken, J.P. (2019). Recovery-oriented support work: the perspective of people with lived experience. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice.


STUDY III: Narusson, D. & Wilken, J.P. (2018). Recovery in the Community: Relational and Cultural Sensitivity. Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 2 (1): Recovery in the Community, 68–81.

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Recovery Stories & Participation - experiences & challenges

From the research we learn that regardless of the country where people live, persons with disabilities have similar struggles to cope with vulnerability and deprivation. They also share the same desires as any other human being: the wish to live a good and valued life, to have meaningful activities and to belong to a social community.

The stories in this book were selected from the interviews which were conducted by researchers during the project. The portraits illustrate experiences of illness, disability and recovery. They also reflect experiences of using social- and mental health services, exclusion and inclusion. By reading these stories we see, how multifaceted life can be, and what are the challenges towards the real participation in community. Many thanks to Heli, Anneli, Oliver, Janine, Jan Cees, Gyula and Judit for sharing their stories! 

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Recovery Stories & Participation - experiences & challenges, ENGLISH PDF

Verhalen van Herstel en Participatie. Ervaringen en uitdagingen

ISBN 978-9949-29-200-4

Publisher: Institute of Social Work, Tallinn University, Estland. Kenniscentrum Sociale Innovatie, Hogeschool Utrecht, Nederland. in samenwerking met CARe Europe, DIGIRA en DUO publishing house


Történetek a felépülésről és társadalmi részvételről Tapasztalatok és kihívások

ISBN 978-9949-29-203-5

Kiadók: Institute of Social Work, Tallinn University, Estonia Research Centre for Social Innovation, University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands Együttműködő partnerek: CARe Europe, DIGIRA and DUO publishing house



Lood taastumisest ja ühiskonnas osalemisest - kogemused ja väljakutsed

ISBN 978-9949-29-194-6

Publisher: Sotsiaaltöö Instituut, Tallinna Ülikool, Eesti Sotsiaalse innovatsiooni uurimiskeskus, Utrechti Rakenduskõrgkool, Holland koostöös CARe Europe, DIGIRA ja MTÜ DUO kirjastusega


Истории о восстановлении и участии: опыт и вызовы

ISBN 978-9949-29-197-7

Publisher: Перевод на русский язык: Елена Раудла Текстовая корректура: Оливер Кукк Фотографии: Ынне Мяннасалу, Майри Лухасоо, Катерина Быкова, Симона Карбоуниарис, Робберт Броекхуийсен и Юдит


Stories of recovery and participation - experiences and challenges

Author: Jean Pierre Wilken, Karin Hanga, Zsolt Bugarszki, Sascha van Gijzel, Simona Karbouniaris, Zsuzsa Kondor, Marju Medar, Dagmar Narusson, Koidu Saia, Tallinna Ülikool. Sotsiaaltöö Instituut, Eesti Sotsiaalse innovatsiooni uurimiskeskus, Hogeschool Utrecht,

Editor: Jean Pierre Wilken, Karin Hanga, Illustrator: Rein Meresaar


Tallinn University [etc.]

Published: 2015

Language: English

Type: book




ISBN 978-9949-29-190-8 (epub)

Downloaded 371 times

Available at the authorised workplace in the National Library of Estonia, Archival Library of the Estonian Literary Museum, Tallinn University of Technology Library and University of Tartu Library

Available in the network of the National Library of Estonia

Available in public network




Products of Projects:

Community orientation of services for persons with a psychiatric disability. Comparison between Estonia, Hungary and the Netherlands

Jean Pierre Wilken, Zsolt Bugarszki, Karin Hanga, Dagmar Narusson, Koidu
Saia & Marju Medar

Jean Pierre Wilken, Zsolt Bugarszki, Karin Hanga, Dagmar Narusson, Koidu
Saia & Marju Medar (2017): Community orientation of services for persons with a psychiatric disability. Comparison between Estonia, Hungary and the Netherlands, European Journal of Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2017.1289896

Products of Projects:

Community support and participation among persons with disabilities.

A study in three European countries


Jean-Pierre Wilken, Marju Medar, Zsolt Bugarszki, Frans Leenders

Community support and participation among persons with disabilities. A study in three European countries

This article describes a European project which was aimed at improving the situation of persons with psychiatric or learning disabilities with regard to social participation and citizenship. The project took place in three countries (Estonia, Hungary and the Netherlands) and four cities (Tallinn, Budapest, Amersfoort and Maastricht). The project included research and actions at the policy level, the organizational level and the practice level. At the policy level, the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations, 2006) and the European Disability Strategy (European Commission, 2010) were used to look at national and local policies, at the reality of the lives of those with disabilities and at the support that professional services offer with regard to participation and inclusion. The project generated a number of insights, recommendations and methods by which to improve the quality of service and increase the number of opportunities for community engagement. In this article, we present some of the lessons learned from the meta-analysis. Although the circumstances in each country are quite different with regard to policy, culture and service systems, it is remarkable that people with disabilities face many of the same problems.

The study shows that in all three countries, access to services could be improved. Barriers include bureaucratic procedures and a lack of services. The research identified that in every country and city there are considerable barriers regarding equal participation in the field of housing, work and leisure activities. In addition to financial barriers, there are the barriers of stigma and self-stigmatization. Marginalization keeps people in an unequal position and hinders their recovery and participation. In all countries, professionals need to develop a stronger focus on supporting the participation of their clients in public life and in the development of different roles pertaining to citizenship.

Recovery and inclusion-oriented researches in Estonia

Summer 2019



Eveli has been working in mental health and social work for 13 years. She has focused in her work on personal recovery, person’s strengths and experiences of crises. 


Eveli is qualified CARe worker and also social worker. She thinks that CARe training resonated very well with her values, principles and after CARe training she uses the “recovery language” in her work and life.


In June 2019 Eveli defended her master’s degree and introduced her research about PLAN OF WARNING SIGNS and CRISES CARD SERVICE in Estonia. 

Eveli interviewed persons with mental health crises and illness experience. 


Eveli’s research described that In a mental health crisis, it is important that a person receives the necessary help according to his or her desires and will. Positive and safe humanly help creates trust. Creating a crisis card is important for people who experience or are at risk of experiencing recurrent mental health crises. The crisis card should always be preceded by the mapping on warning signs, so that the person learns better about his or her state of health and self-coping mechanisms and knows what stressors will lead to the crisis. The plan of warning signs should be recommended to do for all people who experience recurrences of mental health or mental illness in order to be prepared for a recession and prevent deterioration or crisis. Over time, it is also possible to prevent crises by seeking help at the right time, which will ensure a better and safer functioning of the individual at both personal and social levels.


Master theses:




Recovery and inclusion-oriented researches in Estonia

Summer 2019



Brigitta finished her master studies in 2019. The topic of her master theses is recovery and forensic care. Brigitta’s research is published in:

Õunmaa, B., Narusson, D. (2019). Remand Prisoners’ Perceptions of Recovery in Closed Settings. Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 2(2-3), 5-20.


The purpose of the research was to explore the reflections of remand prisoners’ experiences and needs of emotional and psychological coping with imprisonment in the context of personal recovery. Research showed that negative relationships and perceived power difference with staff lead to tensions and creates and confirms identity “me as a criminal”. There is a need to promote more recovery-oriented communication with staff.  Meaningful activities for remand prisoners would help to create better self-image and more hope for future and their return to society.


Brigitta has studied social work in bachelor, and service design in her master studies. She has been working as a support worker for people with mental health difficulties. Currently, she is working as a social field specialist in prison and carries on the personal recovery approach. Her earlier study focused on stigmatisation and self-stigmatisation of individuals with mental health difficulties.




Recovery and inclusion-oriented researches in Estonia

Summer 2019



Eva completed her master studies in 2019 with the thesis “Social inclusion of children with autism spectrum diagnosis in comprehensive school environment”. 


Eva is concerned about the situation and opportunities for children with mental health disabilities and special needs in local comprehensive schools. She has been working as a social pedagogue in school and currently, she is working in educational counselling centre. She has two sons, and one of them has special needs because his talent.


The aim of her research was to get to know how people working in educational field are interpreting the social inclusion and possibilities of obtaining education as well connecting the children with autism in class and school relational environment. It came out that social inclusion is hindered by the fellow pupils’ parents’ negative attitude towards children with ADS and practitioner’s weak readiness to create an appropriate learning environment which allows to pay attention to development of children’s social skills and adaptability. 


Her thesis:

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