Discovering Health specialises in consultancy support for any organisation involved in changing people’s behaviour. We work in the UK with commissioners and providers of interventions in local government, the NHS, 3rd sector and private organisations. We are also working out solutions to similar problems in other parts of Europe, the USA and Australia. Based on over 30 years of research, policy and practice we know how people ‘recover’ from behaviours and lifestyles that were killing them.
We choose the term ‘Discovery’ over ‘Recovery’ for several reasons. Recovery suggests that there was a time and place to go back to when all was well. This might work well for people who are ‘recovering’ from a stroke, a heart attack or cancer. The truth for many of the people we work with is that they have grown up surrounded by poor health and well being. The environment in which they were born and raised were places were poor health and well being was the norm. For them, the journey to good health and well being is a voyage of discovery.
Also, it is our experience that once people are successful in changing one behaviour, they discover other areas of their lives that can be changed for the better. For example, people who manage to gain control over problems with alcohol and other drugs realise the need to stop smoking, eat better and take some exercise.
It is especially tragic when people recover from an alcohol addiction only to die of lung cancer (smoking tobacco) or type 2 diabetes (eating sugar) a few years after stopping drinking.
There are less dramatic ways in which damaging behaviours compete for the attention of the person recovering from one problem. It is very common to see people replace one addictive behaviour with another. Drug addicts who stop taking drugs but develop a problem with gambling, eating, pornography and sex are common place. The programmes we design and the systems we work with are all about providing practical help and support to bring about real and sustainable behaviour change in individuals, families and communities. In our experience this is best achieved by focusing on people as members of families and communities and ‘treating’ the whole family and the whole community. To this end we are great believers in Asset Based approaches to health and well being and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) in particular.
We have learnt from all of our work with people recovering from addictions to drugs and alcohol that “you alone can do it but you can’t do it alone”. Individual psychotherapy is a great resource and essential to many people’s recoveries. However, there are times when it becomes so painfully obvious that I cannot do this thing on my own. It is at this point we remind people that “I can’t but WE can”.
This is particularly important to men. Socially isolated men are at especially high risk of early death as a result of smoking, drinking, drugging, eating bad food and not exercising. Many public health campaigns have failed to engage these marginalised men. In our experience this is because what really lies at the heart of these men’s lives is a lack of meaning and purpose. When they are told that they could live a much longer life if only they embraced healthier behaviours they are often thinking “why would I want to live longer?” Socially isolated men are often living desperately sad lives and are self medicating with drink and drugs to make life bearable on a day to day basis. The way out of this is to discover health and well being in fellowship and friendship networks. Our work on premature male mortality is all about men coming together as mates and discovering health and well being together.
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