Mental health problems are recognized as a leading cause of disability and have seen increased allocations of resources and services globally. There is a growing call for solutions supporting global mental health and recovery to be locally relevant and built on the knowledge and skills of people with mental health problems, particularly in low-income countries. Set in Dehradun district, North India, this study aimed to describe first, the process of co-production of a visual tool to support recovery for people affected by psycho-social disability; second, the key outputs developed and third, critical reflection on the process and outputs. The developmental process consisted of participatory action research and qualitative methods conducted by a team of action researchers and an experts by experience (EBE) group of community members. The team generated eight domains for recovery under three meta-domains of normalcy, belonging and contributing and the ensuing recovery tool developed pictures of activities for each domain. Challenges to using a participatory and emancipatory process were addressed by working with a mentor experienced in participatory methods, and by allocating time to concurrent critical reflection on power relationships. Findings underline the important contribution of an EBE group demonstrating their sophisticated and locally valid constructions of recovery and the need for an honest and critically reflective process in all co-productive initiatives. This study generated local conversations around recovery that helped knowledge flow from bottom-to-top and proposes that the grass-root experiences of participants in a disadvantaged environment are needed for meaningful social and health policy responses.
Keywords: Asia; community-based participatory research; mental health; qualitative methods.
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