A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: guide for practitioners and providers

Capability 2F: Responsive to families, carers and support people

Page last updated: 2013

Recovery-oriented practice and service delivery recognises the unique role of personal and family relationships in promoting wellbeing, providing care, and fostering recovery across the life span, and recognises the needs of families and support givers themselves.

Core principles

  • A person’s ability to fulfil their roles and responsibilities within significant relationships can promote and sustain personal recovery efforts; a person’s parenting roles and responsibilities are particularly important.
  • The important roles played by family members, carers, peers and significant others is acknowledged and supported in contributing to the wellbeing of people experiencing mental health issues.
  • Families, carers, significant others and peers are viewed as partners.
  • Mental health practitioners and services acknowledge and are responsive to the needs of families, friends and other carers for information, education, guidance and support for their own needs as well as to enable them to assist a person’s recovery.
  • Choices about the involvement in personal recovery of family and significant others rests with the person living with mental health issues, with due consideration for what is age appropriate.


Values and attitudes

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • recognise, value and affirm the importance of a person’s roles and responsibilities within their personal relationships
  • recognise, value and respect the role of family members, carers and significant others
  • understand and empathise with the journeys of recovery, healing, wellbeing, growth and learning that families are undertaking
  • understand, respect and respond to family diversity
  • are sensitive and responsive to children and young people in families experiencing mental health issues Top of page


Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • understand the impact of mental health issues on close relationships
  • understand and respect the tensions inherent in balancing the wishes and personal recovery aspirations and goals of people and those of their family and carers, including tensions about privacy and personal information
  • recognise the diversity of family relationships and responsibilities, including but not limited to different cultures, same-sex relationships and blended families
  • understand the needs of families and have up-to-date knowledge of services and supports available to meet those needs

Skills and behaviours

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • provide people with opportunities to identify and express relationship support choices and needs
  • assist people to maintain, establish or re-establish relationships with family and support people
  • support people to fulfil important roles such as parenting
  • assist family members and significant others to feel safe, welcome and valued
  • help families to support the recovery of a relative
  • help families to identify and meet their own support needs, for example support with their own responses, information needs, and support/education to use a recovery approach
  • as soon as possible, offer family and people in a person’s support network assistance to navigate service systems
  • advocate and support self-advocacy for family members and carers when interruption to their education, training, or employment leads to economic and social hardships
  • seek out and incorporate the views of families and carers in practice and service delivery Top of page

Recovery-oriented practice

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • are vigilant in identifying and meeting the support needs of children and young people in families experiencing mental health issues
  • are clear about rights and responsibilities in relation to privacy and consent, including with respect to family member involvement, and encourage open discussion when views and interests are in conflict
  • encourage and support people when they are well to develop advanced care directives or plans for the care of their children
  • support people in sharing key elements of recovery goals and approaches with family and support people

Recovery-oriented leadership

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • review organisational policy and procedures to ensure that they embrace working collaboratively with families, carers and support networks
  • offer flexibility in working with families, carers and support people, including opportunities for off-site, out-of-hours and in-home assessment and service
  • promote family and carer peer support such as family and carer consultants, parent peer support and Children of Parents with Mental Illness programs
  • ensure that staff, consumers, families and support people are aware of sources of family and carer support, including peer support.


  • Increase opportunities for the employment of family/carer peer workers and for the co-design of family peer support programs.
  • Support the use of advanced care directives. Top of page

Resource materials