What is Recovery?

FDAMH is a recovery-focused organisation. In the mental-health context ‘recovery’ can be a difficult term to understand, because it can take place even though the underlying mental health issue still exists. Here we’ve brought together some information to help you understand what is meant by ‘recovery’.

For many people, the concept of recovery is about staying in control of their life despite experiencing a mental health problem. Professionals in the mental health sector often refer to the ‘recovery model’ to describe this way of thinking.

Recovery is neither about an unrealistic hope of magical transformation, nor about the impossible prospect of returning to whatever preceded illness. Instead it is an open-ended and cautiously optimistic process of sketching out a path forward and developing hope for a more satisfactory life alongside whatever remains of the illness.

The Recovery process:

  • provides a holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just their symptoms
  • believes recovery from severe mental illness is possible
  • is a journey rather than a destination
  • does not necessarily mean getting back to where you were before
  • happens in ‘fits and starts’ and, like life, has many ups and downs
  • calls for optimism and commitment from all concerned
  • is profoundly influenced by people’s expectations and attitudes
  • requires a well organised system of support from family, friends or professionals
  • 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 emphasises that, while people may not have full control over their symptoms, they can 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, recognising and fostering their abilities, interests and dreams.

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.

Recovery and Social Inclusion
There is a strong link between the recovery process and social inclusion. A key role for services is to support people to regain their place in the communities where they live and take part in mainstream activities and opportunities along with everyone else. There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that taking part in social, educational, training, volunteering and employment opportunities can support the process of individual recovery.

Extracts taken from information issued by the Mental Health Foundation, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Scottish Recovery Network. You can visit their websites to find out more about recovery using the links on the right of this page.