Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recovery 101 - Series Kick Off

This post is a part of the Recovery 101 blog series. The series will explore ideas, philosophies, language, tools, and questions about mental health recovery.  Submit any ideas for topics in the comments section of any tagged post.

I’ve mentioned that when I started working in this field, I heard the word recovery tossed around a lot, but there didn’t seem to be any substance to it. I specifically remember being asked in my job interview about “recovery” – I think I said something about “believing that it is possible to get better” from a mental illness. The exchange was pretty vague on both sides.

I now think that part of the reason for this hazy understanding of recovery was precisely because it is so hard to pin down. Mental health recovery is different for each individual. But good community/social workers have always known that each patient/client/member has different needs and strengths, so there must be more to it than that.

From what I’ve learned so far:
-recovery is about living a full life (however you define it) not just getting by, coping, or managing
-it requires an individual to take responsibility for their own wellbeing
-a healthy, supportive, and empathetic environment makes so much difference
-it requires people to make choices for themselves. This may will include choices which lead to both successes and failures.
-the systems currently in place - hospitals, community mental health supports, families - although often well intentioned, may hinder as well as help
-recovery always involves HOPE.  This is probably the most key ingredient.

How do you define recovery?  What does it take?

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