What is recovery?

Recovery in mental health is a term used to describe how people who have been diagnosed with severe mental disorders manage and overcome their mental health challenges.  Recovery is different for each individual, as it is a deeply personal process.

The reason why a recovery focus in mental health care provision has come to prominence today is that the World Health Organisation has recognised the findings from long term studies that show that up to 70% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia AND 80% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorders recover or improve significantly. Many people live in their own homes, have a job, rear children, are involved in meaningful activities, have friends they can count on and have slight or no impairments.

The Vision for Change Report published by the Department of Health in 2006, promotes the development of services in a way that puts the service user’s recovery at the heart of the picture, as the starting point from which everything else follows. Not only will this cause a shift in focus of the relationship between clinicians and service users, but it will also shape how services are planned, structured and delivered.

Recovery has been described as:

The belief that it is possible for all service users to achieve control over their lives, to recover their self-esteem, and move towards building a life where they experience a sense of belonging and participation“.

For some service users, recovery may mean developing personal resources to live well in the presence of mental health problems; for others it may be about overcoming symptoms as defined by the traditional model of illness. Consequently, what recovery means for a person is best defined by the individual within the context of their personal wishes, dreams and capabilities” (Vision for Change 2006 pg.105).

Mary Ellen Copeland who as a service user developed a recovery programme known as WRAP to assist users of services in their recovery journey, has found that Key to Recovery is that people experience:

  • Hope
  • Self-Responsibility
  • Education
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Support

The EOLAS programme with its focus on recovery, promotes these key aspects through enabling shared learning, providing information on mental health issues and suggesting practical coping strategies for managing mental health challenges.

Links to helpful recovery resources

The list below contains links to some helpful resources that may be useful for recovery