Put simply recovery is about having and building a meaningful, satisfying and contributing life and using your strengths to become all you want to be.

Understanding the process of recovery and what helps people in their journey comes from the narratives of people who have faced the challenges of rebuilding their lives with mental health, addiction and learning disabilities.

Specialist treatment like therapy and medication may be important for many but it is only a part of the story...

Everyone's journey of recovery is individual and uniquely personal – there is no formula for recovery, but there does appear to be three things that are critical:

  • Hope – recovery is impossible without hope. Relationships are key in supporting and fostering hope. It is difficult to believe in yourself if everyone around you thinks you will never amount to very much. When you find it hard to believe in yourself and your possibilities you need others to believe in you and hold onto hope for you
  • Control – recovery involves taking back control. This may involve taking control of your life and destiny and finding purpose, meaning and direction in life, deciding what is important to you and finding new dreams and ambitions.  It may also include taking control of your own recovery and self care and working out ways of managing problems so they don’t get in the way of you pursuing your goals and deciding what help and support you need in order to pursue your ambitions
  • Opportunity – recovery is impossible without opening up opportunity for a life beyond illness.  Doing the things that give your life value such as meaningful occupation, work, and participation in community life and leisure activities.

  • Living hopefully
  • Taking control over your problems and your life
  • Pursuing your dreams and ambitions.

  • Building a new sense of self, meaning and purpose
  • Growing within and beyond what has happened to you. 

  • Discovering that you are more than your diagnosis
  • Discovering that you are the expert
  • Discovering that you don’t need to rely on services and professionals
  • Discovering that your journey continues after services
  • Discovering that your experiences are not totally negative.

PINEL (1745 - 1826) He was named superintendent of the Bicêtre Insane Asylum in Paris in 1792, where he introduced the then-radical notion of treating these patients with human dignity. "Mental derangement" was seen by physicians and the general public as a sign of demonic possession, and patients were routinely held in irons for their entire lives.

SHEPHERD ET AL (2008) At the heart of recovery “...is a set of values about a person’s right to build a meaningful life for themselves, with or without the continuing presence of symptoms. Recovery is based on ideas of self-determination and self-management. It emphasises the importance of ‘hope’ in sustaining motivation and supporting expectations of an individually fulfilled life”.

PATIENT FOCUS GROUP AT ASHWORTH HOSPITAL (2015) Recovery is life long. It involves taking responsibility, utilising strengths and creating and maintaining safe relationships to shape personal identity. It includes managing risky behaviour or attitudes. It involves openness and honesty and is aimed towards a positive future. It means being a useful and contributing member of society.