About recovery

Mental health is something that affects us all and can change over the course of our lives. Being mentally healthy means much more than just being free from mental illness. Good mental health also includes:

We believe that mental health is a continuum.

Where we are on this continuum at any one point in time can be based on a number of factors, such as our current life circumstances and experience of stressful life events. It can also be influenced by our biological and psychological vulnerability to mental ill-health.

We all experience events in life that can make us feel low, angry, stressed or scared. Some of the factors of good mental health can help us during difficult times, acting as protective factors. For the most part, negative thoughts and feelings come and go and we begin to move back towards the mentally healthy end of the continuum. However, for some of us, we can get stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts, feelings and unhelpful behaviour. If these feelings persist, they can develop into a more serious mental health condition. In this case, we experience mental ill–health when our difficulties start to get in the way of us doing things.

Roughly a quarter of the population experience a mental health condiiton in any one year. 'Mental illness' is a general term that refers to a wide range of conditions which affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviour and ability to cope with the everyday demands of life. These can range from depression and anxiety to conditions such as schizophrenia and personality disorders.

    Although at times it may feel like there is no way forward, recovery is possible. Despite having a mental health condition, people can and do learn to live with their symptoms (or get over them), rediscover ‘wellness’ and recover their lives.

    What is recovery?

    The concept of recovery and the 'Recovery Movement' arose in the 1970s and 80s from the accounts and experiences of those with severe mental ill-health which emphasized self-help, empowerment and advocacy, and challenged the traditional notions of professional power and expertise.

    They also challenged the pessimistic view that people with severe mental ill-health did not recover. Further support for the Recovery Movement came from studies that showed that many people living with mental health conditions were able to lead valued and productive lives - and some became symptom free.

    Whilst there is no single agreed definition of recovery, the following is cited widely and captures the essence of what recovery is about:

    "A deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and 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." (Anthony, 1993)