• evaluation;
  • mental health;
  • nurses;
  • personal experience;
  • recovery;
  • recovery education;
  • wellness recovery action plans

higgins a., callaghan p., devries j., keogh b., morrissey j., nash m., ryan d., gijbels h. & carter t. (2012) Evaluation of mental health recovery and Wellness Recovery Action Planning education in Ireland: a mixed methods pre–postevaluation. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(11), 2418–2428.


Aim.  To report a study evaluating the effectiveness of a Wellness Recovery Action Planning education programme.

Background.  Internationally, mental health policy is advocating using recovery approaches to care. Underpinning these approaches is investment in education in recovery principles and methods and a need to provide evidence of the impact of this education.

Design.  The study design employed a mixed methods approach.

Methods.  Using questionnaires and focus groups, we evaluated 2- and 5-day Wellness Recovery Action Planning Education Programmes and assessed participants’ attitudes towards recovery, knowledge of recovery and Wellness Recovery Action Planning beliefs. Data were collected between 2009 and 2010. Participants were people with personal experience of mental health problems, practitioners in mental health services and family members/carers of those with mental health problems.

Results.  Comparing the pre and postmeasures showed that the programme increased participants’ knowledge of and attitudes towards recovery and Wellness Recovery Action Planning. Although this increase was statistically significant for the 2-day programme, it was not so for the 5-day programme. Participants reported being very positive and enthusiastic about the programme and the benefits they had achieved personally and professionally as a result of participating.

Conclusions.  This exploratory study shows that providing mental health practitioners and people with personal experience of mental health problems with a systematic education and training in recovery principles using the Wellness Recovery Action Planning approach leads to positive changes in people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes towards recovery. This education appeared to inspire, invigorate and empower people, and for many, it was a life changing experience.