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A person helps another climb a hill while the sun sets in the background

“Recovery is not the same thing as being cured. Recovery is a process not an endpoint or a destination. Recovery is an attitude, a way of approaching the day and facing the challenges.”

“Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness” (WA Anthony)

What it means

  • Recovery is possible for everyone with the right approach and opportunity of being in control.
  • Having hope is crucial to recovery - none of us would strive if we believed it to be a futile effort.
  • Recovery is a deeply personal, unique process.
  • Recovery is an attitude - a way of approaching the day and facing the challenges.
  • Recovery is the on-going process of taking control of one’s life that is meaningful, satisfying and purposeful.
  • Recovery does not necessarily mean cure or returning to where the person was before they became unwell. It is a re-adaption to the illness that allows life to go forward in a meaningful way.
  • Recovery is a journey marked by successive achievements - some steps which seem backwards can help to develop resilience.
  • Professionals cannot manufacture the spirit of recovery and give it to people.   They can say: "you do it and we can help."
  • Recovery is a process not an endpoint or destination.

A recovery-focused approach leads to a move away from traditional practice towards recovery-oriented practice.

Recovery-focused work is characterised by:

  • A shift of professional role from authority to coach.
  • A focus on the core significance of hope and optimism.
  • Viewing medication as being about more than compliance.
  •  Moving from risk avoidance to risk sharing.
  • Promoting self-management.
  • Using hospital as a springy safety net.
  • Promoting the expert patient.
  • Developing a common language.

Terminology can be helpful or it can hinder recovery. This table outlines examples of some terminology that can be more useful for staff, service users, family and  friends to use.

Glass half empty vs glass half full

Deficit-based language

Strengths–based recovery–orientated alternative language

Clinical Case Manager

Recovery coach / Recovery guide (I’m not a case, and you’re not a manager!)

Suffering from

Working to recover from; experiencing; living with


Barriers to change; needs


Person has high expectations for self and recovery


Resourceful; really trying to get help


Unaware of capabilities


Unaware of opportunities

Puts self / recovery at risk

Takes chances to grow and experience new things

Patient in Mental Health community

Individual, receiving services

The 5 Ways to Mental Wellbeing is a good tool to use to improve and or maintain good mental health, and can be used to assist recovery.

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