Moving forward

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. 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.

What supports recovery?

Research has found that important factors on the road to recovery include:

• good relationships
• financial security
• satisfying work
• personal growth
• the right living environment
• developing one’s own cultural or spiritual perspectives
• developing resilience to possible adversity or stress in the future

Further factors highlighted by people as supporting them on their recovery journey include:

• being believed in;
• being listened to and understood;
• getting explanations for problems or experiences; and,
• having the opportunity to temporarily resign responsibility during periods of crisis.

In addition, it is important that anyone who is supporting someone during the recovery process encourages them to develop their skills and supports them to achieve their goals.

The road to recovery is not a set route, everyone’s journey will take on different elements, therefore there are no set rules for recovery. The journey will be individualised and uniquely personal.

Stages of recovery

• Point of crisis – A time of withdrawal – loss and hopelessness

• Awareness – Realisation that all is not lost and that a fulfilling life is possible

• Preparation – Recognition of strengths and weaknesses regarding recovery, working on developing recovery skills

• Rebuilding – Actively working towards a positive identity, setting goals and taking control of life

• Growth – Living a meaningful life by self-management of the illness and positivity

Recovery is ….“about finding a better, healthier and more sustainable life that recognises the past, accepts the limitations of the present and is full of hope for the future”

(Simon Heyes: ‘Art of Recovery’, 2006)

Tools available to help service users and mental health services