At a glance

“The term ‘recovery’ is used widely throughout the mental health sector. It can have different meanings in different contexts. The NDIA defines recovery as achieving an optimal state of personal, social and emotional wellbeing, as defined by each individual, whilst living with or recovering from a mental health condition.” (NDIS)

The term ‘recovery’ in relation to mental health can be misunderstood, as it is often confused with the medical understanding of the word, which may mean ‘being cured’ or having no symptoms.

For people living with mental health conditions recovery is about the person’s whole life, not their illness or symptoms. It is personal and will mean different things to different people. Recovery, and a recovery oriented approach, focus on someone getting back control of their life, which may or may not include living with symptoms. This may involve building or maintaining:

  • hope and optimism
  • strengths and abilities
  • an active life
  • a positive sense of self
  • a meaningful and purposeful life.

Recovery … is about finding ways to overcome barriers.

- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition.

Support workers who work in a recovery framework [should] support a person to define what positive mental health means for them.

- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition

“Those of us who live with mental illness have the right to expect to lead fulfilling lives, and to pursue our own choices about how we live and about the support we accept, regardless of whether we are experiencing symptoms” (Living Well, Mental Health Commission of NSW Strategic Plan).


Video-let's talk about recovery
This short video explains recovery and components to support recovery.
Type: Video | Closed captions
Viewing time: 1:39 minutes
Produced by: Scottish Recovery Network

What is recovery?
This website explains recovery, including stories of hope by people about their own experience and perceptions.
Type: Website
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Produced by: Wodonga Mental Health Services

Personal recovery
This web page has information and videos of people sharing their lived experience and their views of recovery.
Type: Web page and Videos
Transcript Available
Produced by: Healthtalk Australia

Making Recovery Real in Dundee: Taking Control
This is a video of the personal accounts of lived experiences of mental health difficulties and recovery (with Scottish accents!).
Type: Video | Closed captions
Viewing time: 3:02 minutes
Produced by: Scottish Recovery Network​​

Current as at: Monday 20 January 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health