Research into Recovery and Wellbeing

A website about the work of the recovery research team at the Institute of Mental Health

The University of Nottingham



What is a Recovery College?

Recovery Colleges are a new approach to supporting people living with mental health problems. They are collaborative, strengths-based, person- centred, inclusive (i.e. available to all) and community-focused. A Recovery College provides support to students (mainly mental health service users but also family members, staff and other stakeholders) through adult education rather than through clinical approaches. You can find a recent update on Recovery Colleges here. The first Recovery College opened in England 2010, and there are now 77 across England (according to a recent survey), each working with up to 1,000 students at any time. many more are opening around the world. But there has been little work studying the impact of Recovery Colleges.

What is the RECOLLECT Study?

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded the Recovery Colleges Characterisation and Testing (RECOLLECT) Study (grant RP-DG-0615-10008) (2017-2018). The study address three questions:

1. What are the defining characteristics of a Recovery College, and how does it differ from other medical and adult education approaches?

2. How do Recovery Colleges work, and how do they benefit service users? 

3. Who uses Recovery Colleges?

What did we find?

We developed a framework for collaborative data analysis:

Jennings H, Slade M, Bates P, Munday E, Toney R (2018) Best practice framework for Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in collaborative data analysis of qualitative mental health research: methodology development and refinement, BMC Psychiatry, 18, 213.

We used this framework to co-develop a model of mechanisms of action and outcomes for students attending Recovery Colleges:

Toney R, Elton D, Munday E, Hamill K, Crowther A, Meddings S, Taylor A, Henderson C, Jennings H, Waring J, Pollock K, Bates P, Slade M Mechanisms of action and outcomes for students in Recovery Colleges, Psychiatric Services, in press.

Other papers being prepared and submitted now (Spring 2018) are on

  • Development of the RECOLLECT Fidelity Measure
  • Mechanisms of action and outcomes for mental health staff, health and social care system and wider society
  • Casemix analysis of three Recovery Colleges and (5) best practice framework for collaborative data analysis with lived experience co-researchers

Contact us here for information about any of these.

We created and evaluated two tools for Recovery Colleges. They can be freely used, providing they are not changed.

The RECOLLECT Checklist is intended to help Recovery Colleges in their development. There are three versions to capture different perspectives. You can download the student version here, the peer trainer version here and the manager version here.

The RECOLLECT Fidelity Measure produced a quantitative score, and is primarily for use in evaluation. You can download the RECOLLECT Fidelity Measure here.

What's next?

We have applied for a Programme Grant to undertake a substantial programme of work about Recovery Colleges.