While psychiatric rehabilitation is common in the U.S., in many parts of the world people with severe mental illness have few services available. Learn how the efforts of one American human services expert have brought psychiatric rehabilitation and hope to a city in Pakistan. A degree in human services could help you do the same.

Promoting Psychiatric Rehabilitation AbroadWhen it comes to mental healthcare systems, each country evolves at its own pace. Countries all over the world still lack the capacity, knowledge, and focus on public health initiatives to develop and implement programs for those living with mental illness. As a result, these individuals are often secluded rather than rehabilitated. Perhaps that’s why cities like Karachi, Pakistan, are receiving such a strong showing of support for taking an active approach to psychiatric rehabilitation and helping individuals in their local community.

Begun as a public health and human services initiative, the first rehabilitation institution for mental illness in Pakistan opened its doors in 2011. The Recovery House is a nonprofit organization located in the urban city of Karachi, Pakistan, and offers coordinated and structured treatment services to patients living with severe mental illness. Modeled after similar programs in the United States, The Recovery House has two primary programs—a 15-bed residential program and a day program that can accommodate 30 to 40 patients. Clientele consists of individuals with such issues as mood disorders, depression, anxiety (phobia, panic attacks), schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and personality disorders. Professionals with a degree in human services, counseling, or psychology are affiliated with The Recovery House and help patients learn to manage their own illness so that they can be successful in various aspects of life.

Because the concept of psychiatric rehabilitation is still new to Pakistan, The Recovery House brought about an exciting opportunity for U.S.-based expert Dr. Veronica Carey to share her professional expertise. Dr. Carey teaches human services courses at Walden University. She is also the chair of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s Academy of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery and a consultant to the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in Pennsylvania. Widely known for her work implementing psychiatric rehabilitation programs and facilities, Dr. Carey spent 18 months working virtually with the team of professionals in Karachi to develop the model they now have in place. “The Recovery House is an opportunity for people to develop skills, develop resources, and receive support,” said Dr. Carey.

In a seminar conducted in Karachi by Dr. Carey and her colleague Dr. Barbara Granger, PhD, CPRP, of Granger Consultation Services, local psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, families, and caregivers were educated on new developments related to the management of mental illness. Family members also had an opportunity to learn what mental illness is and how it affects their loved ones. “Psychiatric rehabilitation is a complement to existing service delivery,” said Dr. Carey. “The strategies we use reduce the level of stigma because as people start demonstrating their capacities and their competencies, and they are doing things in the community, people realize the individual’s capabilities.”

There was a clear need to bring this valuable service to the growing mental health system in Pakistan, and the success of The Recovery House’s model will hopefully lead to the establishment of additional facilities throughout the world.

An online human services degree can prepare you to pursue opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, addressing critical public health issues impacting communities. Walden University’s School of Social Work and Human Services offers three degree programs for those interested in careers that are focused on improving the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities in need: a PhD in Human Services, an MS in Human Services, and a BS in Human Services. With an online human services degree from Walden University, you will learn from experienced faculty members who are leaders in their field.

Dr. Veronica Carey, PhD, CPRP, is a Walden University faculty member, chair of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s Academy of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery, and a consultant to Pennsylvania’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Her articles on direct-care staff development in community-based treatment settings have been published in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal and Psychiatric Services.