Recovery & Hope

Recovery and Mental Health

About 25% of people diagnosed with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, fully recover, in so far as they show no observable signs or symptoms and no residual impairments in the years following initial onset.  For the other 75% of people living with a mental illness it is most meaningful to talk of being in recovery.  Dr. Larry Davidson of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health describes this as a process of “minimizing the illness and its deleterious effects on the person’s life over time” and “reclaiming his or her right to a safe, dignified, and personally meaningful and gratifying life in the community.”

Recovery grows out of hope

Recovery and Mental Health Resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a working definition of recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”  This process begins with HOPE – the belief that recovery is real and that people can and do overcome the challenges of mental illness to have a better life.

In seeking help for a loved one with mental illness, it is important for others in the support system – providers, as well as friends and family – to share this belief in the hope of recovery.

View the full SAMHSA definition of recovery.

Recovery-Oriented Practice

Recovery does not occur in response to treatment.  It must be pursued by the person with mental illness.  Providers can aid the recovery process by supporting and facilitating a person’s efforts to manage his or her illness.  Recovery may not be a principal point of focus at the onset of illness or during acute crises.  But the best providers believe in and offer the hope that recovery is possible.

Recovery-oriented services emphasize quality of life and community integration.  Services which typically have a strong recovery-orientation are:

  • psychiatric rehabilitation
  • supported employment
  • supported education
  • permanent supportive housing
  • cognitive remediation & compensatory training

Find out more about recovery-oriented practice


The term ‘wellness’ generally refers to a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being.  In mental health, wellness is closely associated with the hope of recovery.  It does not mean an absence of illness, but rather is an active process of being aware and making healthy choices.

SAMSHA’s Wellness planning in mental health focuses on these 8 areas of living:

  • Recovery and Mental Health ResourcesEmotional
  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • Intellectual
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Spiritual

Recovery-oriented practice incorporates all Eight Dimension of Wellness in treatment planning.  Find out more.


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