In the mental health and disability sectors, the term “recovery” is a hotly debated and critiqued topic. For me the term is a misnomer, as recovery has always meant “no more illness”. It’s a very clinical view, therefore recovery from a chronic mental health condition or disability has always seemed impossible. As I get older and hopefully a bit wider-lensed in the psycho-social sphere I can see how the term can have relevance. Through my black-to-blue-to-purple-to-red-to-pink-to-clear-coloured glasses, I recently learned about the CHIME model, (which I will explain later) and it has given me some life-changing insight.

Let me be clear, I don’t foster a specific definition of recovery, as this can’t be generalised for all people. However, through CHIME I have found a way of looking at it that makes sense to me:

The “recovery” concept was initiated through the “consumer movement” of the 1950s, and in part it was a protest against a singularly psychiatric approach to mental health treatment. The consumer movement advocated for peer-to-peer support and self-determined recovery as a better alternative. This is well described by William Anthony as "a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness".   

CHIME, is only eight years old, yet it ties directly into the lessons from the past.

In 2011, a team of researchers in the UK (Leamy, Bird, and others)  conducted a systematic review of studies that examined factors contributing to personal recovery, as described by consumers (87 studies). They arrived at five common themes. These are Connectedness, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment (CHIME). Ironically, I came to learn about CHIME through a Wellways program, and I kind of feel like I’ve gone full circle to now be blogging about it.  Whether it be from Wellways or the stuff I’ve done in my learning, therapy… so on and so on, the key concepts and achieving them has been integral in my recovery. The irony is that I just didn’t have words or a model to define it. 

My wellness journey has always been underpinned by how connected I have felt with my family and community, to being able to have hope, particularly in the darkest days. Feeling okay about who I am, where I belong, has always been important to me and it helps me determine what meaning is in my life. Empowerment has only come more recently in my journey and yet I can see how it enabled me, even when I didn’t know it was. Insight is a powerful thing.

In the next few weeks we, the Wellways’ bloggers, will be commenting on each component of the CHIME model in more depth, but for now take some time to consider these things.

What is being connected look like in your life, what could it look like?

Where do we find Hope, be it the tiniest glimmers in the darkest places, and how can we share that with others?

Who are we, what does Identity mean to you?

Where do you find Meaning in life?

What is Empowerment and how does it impact our lives?

Here’s to some insightful discussion ahead because, to coin a Wellways hack, “any insightful moment can be life changing”.