The National Consensus Statement defines recovery as "Mental health recovery is a journey of healing and transformation enabling a person with a mental health problem to live a meaningful life in a community of his or her choice while striving to achieve his or her full potential." Recovery is about living well. It is courageous work that takes consistent effort, but its rewards are endlessly fulfilling.
Do People Recover?
Absolutely. People with diagnoses get well and stay well. Even for 'major' diagnoses like schizophrenia, scientific studies demonstrate that a majority of individuals recover over time. While some individuals become free of psychiatric concerns altogether, others learn new ways of living in and adjusting to the world.
How Do I Recover?
Millions of people with psychiatric diagnoses are living full and satisfying lives. There is no one-size-fits-all path to recovery. What works for one person may not work for another. Recovery depends on your unique needs, desires, and ideas about life and wellness.
Recovery in Vermont
Through the Vermont Recovery Education Project, the Department of Mental Health has promoted the dissemination of the principles and skills of recovery for adults with severe and persistent mental illness for more than a decade. Two primary models of Recovery Education are available in Vermont:
Recovery Education as taught by Vermont Psychiatric Survivors (VPS), with emphasis on consumer empowerment, Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP), and other principles and tools working out originally by Vermonter Mary Ellen Copeland. Recovery Education is taught in many of the Designated Agencies and at the Vermont State Hospital.
Illness Management and Recovery (IMR), which was developed by the New Hampshire based Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and has identified by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). IMR is available in several of the Designated Agencies.
Ten Components of Recovery
Self-Direction: People lead, control, exercise choice over, and determine their own path of recovery by optimizing autonomy, independence, and control of resources to achieve a self-determined life. By definition, the recovery process must be self-directed by the individual, who defines his or her own life goals and designs a unique path towards those goals.
Individualized and Person-Centered: There are multiple pathways to recovery based on an individual’s unique strengths and resiliencies as well as his or her needs, preferences, experiences (including past trauma), and cultural background in all of its diverse representations. Individuals also identify recovery as being an ongoing journey and an end result as well as an overall paradigm for achieving wellness and optimal mental health.
Empowerment: People have the authority to choose from a range of options and to participate in all decisions—including the allocation of resources—that will affect their lives, and are educated and supported in so doing. They have the ability to join with other consumers to collectively and effectively speak for themselves about their needs, wants, desires, and aspirations. Through empowerment, an individual gains control of his or her own destiny and influences the organizational and societal structures in his or her life.
Holistic: Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. Recovery embraces all aspects of life, including housing, employment, education, mental health and healthcare treatment and services, complementary and naturalistic services, addictions treatment, spirituality, creativity, social networks, community participation, and family supports as determined by the person. Families, providers, organizations, systems, communities, and society play crucial roles in creating and maintaining meaningful opportunities for consumer access to these supports.
Non-Linear: Recovery is not a step-bystep process but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience. Recovery begins with an initial stage of awareness in which a person recognizes that positive change is possible. This awareness enables the person to move on to fully engage in the work of recovery.
Strengths-Based: Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, coping abilities, and inherent worth of individuals. By building on these strengths, consumers leave stymied life roles behind and engage in new life roles (e.g., partner, caregiver, friend, student, employee). Th e process of recovery moves forward through interaction with others in supportive, trust-based relationships.
Peer Support: Mutual support—including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills and social learning—plays an invaluable role in recovery. People in recovery encourage and engage other people in recovery and provide each other with a sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles, and community.
Respect: Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation of people in recovery —including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination and stigma—are crucial in achieving recovery. Self-acceptance and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly vital. Respect ensures the inclusion and full participation of people in recovery in all aspects of their lives.
Responsibility: People have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. Taking steps towards their goals may require great courage. People must strive to understand and give meaning to their experiences and identify coping strategies and healing processes to promote their own wellness.
Hope: Recovery provides the essential and motivating message of a better future— that people can and do overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized; but can be fostered by peers, families, friends, providers, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process. Mental health recovery not only benefits individuals with mental health disabilities by focusing on their abilities to live, work, learn, and fully participate in our society, but also enriches the texture of American community life. America reaps the benefits of the contributions individuals with mental disabilities can make, ultimately becoming a stronger and healthier Nation.