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With regards to mental health, it is important to recognise that ‘recovery’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘cure’. Instead, the concept of mental health recovery focuses more on empowering individuals to regain control over their lives and emotions, and provides them with the tools to manage their mental health challenges in healthy ways.

In this sense, mental health recovery:

  • Is a personalised approach, defined by each individual
  • Goes beyond symptom elimination to include ‘social recovery’
  • Is a journey, not a destination
  • Focuses on building a meaningful life, as defined by the person themselves
  • Moves away from pathology, illness and symptoms to health, strengths and wellness
  • Comprises treatment guided by attention to personal life goals

There are five key recovery concepts that provide the foundation for effective mental health recovery:

  • Hope
  • Personal responsibility
  • Self-advocacy
  • Education
  • Support

From the perspective of the individual with mental illness, recovery means gaining and retaining hope, developing an understanding of one’s abilities and disabilities, engaging in an active life, and acquiring personal autonomy, social identity, a meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self.

As such, our Recovery Colleges adhere to the principles of recovery-oriented mental health practice in order to ensure that our mental health services are being delivered in a way that supports the recovery of each patient that we support.

These principles focus on:

The uniqueness of the individual

  • Recovery is not about cure but is about having the opportunity to make personal choices, being able to live a meaningful, satisfying and purposeful life, and being a valued member of the community
  • Recovery outcomes are personal and unique for each individual and go beyond an exclusive health focus to include an emphasis on social inclusion and quality of life
  • Empowers individuals so they recognise that they are at the centre of the care they receive

Real choices

  • Individuals are supported and empowered to make their own choices about how they want to lead their lives, and are encouraged to make choices that are meaningful and creatively explored
  • Individuals are supported to build on their strengths and take as much responsibility for their lives as possible
  • Ensures that there is a balance between duty of care and support for individuals to take positive risks and make the most of new opportunities

Attitudes and rights

  • Involves listening to, learning from and acting upon communications from the individual and their carers about what is important to each individual
  • Promotes and protects each individual’s legal, citizenship and human rights
  • Supports individuals to maintain and develop social, recreational, occupational and vocational activities, which are meaningful to them
  • Instils hope in an individual’s future and their ability to live a meaningful life

Dignity and respect

  • Consists of being courteous, respectful and honest in all interactions
  • Involves sensitivity and respect for each individual, particularly for their values, beliefs and culture
  • Challenges discrimination and stigma wherever it exists within our services or the broader community

Partnership and communication

  • Acknowledges each individual is an expert on their own life and that recovery involves working in partnership with individuals and their carers to provide support in a way that makes sense to them
  • Values the importance of sharing relevant information and the need to communicate clearly to enable effective engagement
  • Involves working in positive and realistic ways with individuals and their carers to help them to achieve their own hopes, goals and aspirations

Evaluating recovery

  • Ensures continuous evaluation of recovery based practice
  • Individuals and their carers can track their own progress
  • Services demonstrate that they use the individual’s experiences of care to inform quality improvement activities
  • The mental health system reports on key outcomes that indicate recovery

These Recovery Principles have been adapted from the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Recovery Principles in the UK.

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