Personal Recovery

A number of mental disorders are of chronic character. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that persons affected by mental illness cannot live a satisfying and meaningful life. However, mental health problems can entail functional disabilities that need to be dealt with in order for individuals affected by them to cope with daily life. 

With support from society, including health professionals, such issues can be addressed to support individuals in their daily life with mental illness. Clinicians, researchers, patients and their families work with finding ways to support patients’ paths towards recovery. 

Recovery can be viewed from the perspective of individuals with personal experiences of mental illness and from professionals’ perspective, resulting in the separate concepts of personal and clinical recovery.

Clinical recovery focuses on treatment and rehabilitation offered to individuals with experiences of mental illness in order to support these individuals’ own recovery efforts. Personal recovery, on the other hand, is defined from the individual’s perspective. A widely cited definition is that of Bill Anthony:

“Recovery is 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 within the limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.” 

Other definitions of personal recovery reflect Anthony’s definition, also including essential concepts such as hope, identity, meaning and personal responsibility:

“The establishment of a fulfilling, meaningful life and a positive sense of identity founded on hopefulness and self determination.” (Retta Andresen and colleagues)

“Recovery involves living as well as possible.” (South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation)

Listen to Doctor Mike Slade’s (clinical psychologist and academic researcher) thoughts about recovery:

More information about recovery research can be found here: Research into Recovery, Institute of Psychiatry, The Maudsley, King’s College London

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