A way to proceed – recovery

Unfortunately there is no simple single definition of the concept of recovery for people with mental health problems, but the guiding principle is hope – the belief that it is possible, despite serious mental illness, for someone to regain a meaningful life. Recovery is often referred to as a process, outlook, vision, and conceptual framework or guiding principle.

The recovery process provides a holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just their symptoms. The process core is the belief that recovery from severe mental illness is possible, but that it is a journey rather than a destination that does not necessarily take you back to where you were before.

The recovery process proceeds in ‘fits and starts’ and, like life itself, has quite a few ups and downs. It calls for optimism and commitment from all concerned and are profoundly influenced by people’s expectations and attitudes. A basic requirement is a well-organized system of support from family, friends and/or professionals. It also requires services to embrace new and innovative ways of working.

The recovery model aims to help people with mental health problems to look beyond mere survival and existence. It encourages them to move forward, set new goals and do things and develop relationships that give their lives meaning.

Recovery emphasize that, while people may not have full control over their symptoms, they can actually have full control over their lives. Recovery is not about ‘getting rid’ of problems. It is about seeing beyond a person’s mental health problems, recognizing and fostering their abilities, interests and dreams.

Mental illness and social attitudes to mental illness often impose limits on people experiencing ill health. Health professionals, friends and families can be overly protective or pessimistic about what someone with a mental health problem will be able to achieve. Recovery is about looking beyond those limits to help people achieve their own goals and aspirations.

Recovery can be a voyage of self-discovery and personal growth. Experiences of mental illness can provide opportunities for change, reflection and discovery of new values, skills and interests.