People who experience mental health issues can and do recover. 

There is no one definition of ‘recovery’ but it has been described as: 

“…being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life in a community of choice with or without the presence of mental health issues” (A National Framework for Recovery Orientated Mental Health Services: Guide for Practitioners and Providers, 2013).

Recovery does not mean medical cure. It can happen regardless of diagnosis or symptoms, and the severity or frequency of mental health issues. Recovery is often described as an ‘individual journey’ and is best judged by the person themselves.

“Recovery is not the same thing as being cured. Recovery is a process not an end point or a destination. Recovery is an attitude, a way of approaching the day and facing the challenges. Being in recovery means recognising limitations in order to see the limitless possibilities.” (Deegan et al., 1996).

Research (Leamy et al., 2011) has identified some of the most important factors that support recovery. These include:

  • connection: strengthening relationships with family, friends and community
  • hope: being hopeful about life, believing in the possibility of recovery, having dreams and aspirations
  • identity: rebuilding a sense of self and what’s important to you. Trying out, and exploring, new possibilities
  • meaning: making meaning of your experiences, and pursuing and achieving new life goals. Spirituality, making worthwhile contributions to the community of your choice, finding ways to heal from past traumas
  • empowerment: learning about health and wellbeing, taking control of your life, demanding rights and taking on responsibilities

You have the right to make decisions about any treatments you are offered. It can be helpful to talk your decisions over with health professionals and important people in your life. Healthtalk Australia has a helpful online resource on supported decision making featuring stories (in video, audio and text formats) from people with lived experience of mental health issues.

Families, friends and carers also need support in regards to recovery. This includes knowing how to support the recovery of their loved one while understanding their own recovery journey. Families, friends and carers benefit from feeling connected to others, having hope for the future, exploring their own identity, finding meaning from their experiences and being empowered. 

If you need to talk, call our Helpline.

Learn more about:

•    other things that might help
•    causes and contributing factors
•    mental illness
•    support for families, friends and carers
•    the importance of identity and belonging
•    our peer education programs
•    our community education programs
•    our research on community inclusion

Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.

For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.