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AWH recognises the recovery journey as a deeply personal process which is different for each individual, therefore the term "personal recovery" or "recovery" will be used on this website  to represent this process.

The term "recovery" is not the most helpful word to use to describe the process of overcoming and reclaiming a life beyond mental illness and distress, as it is often confused with the medical understanding of the word 'recovery', which may mean cure or no current symptoms (1).

The recovery literature challenges the traditional idea that recovery is about being restored to your previous health. Indeed, whether anyone ever returns unchanged to a prior state after an event is questionable. We are changed, if not in the objective sense, certainly in the experiential sense and how we view the world (2).

Recovery can be described as a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live a self directed life, and strive to reach their full potential (3). There are different ideas of recovery - here are some ideas of people who have experienced mental health problems and recovered:

     "A clear definition of recovery is elusive and means different things to different people. But most people agree that a person "in recovery" is working to take back control of his or her life and achieving her or his own goals and dreams"

                                                                        Mary Ellen Copeland (6)

    " Recovery is a process, a way of life, an attitude, and a way of appraching the day's challenges. it is not a perfectly linear process. At times our course is erratic and we falter, slide back, regroup and start again.

    ...the need is to meet the challenge of the disability and to re-establishing a new a valued sense of integrity and purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability; the aspiration is to live, work and love in a community in which one makes a significant contribution"

                                                                          Pat Deegan (4)


    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 with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness"

                                                                      William Anthony (5)


Who defines the meaning of PERSONAL RECOVERY?

Personal recovery can only be defined by you. It is your version of a "satisfying and meaningful life". It is a process where you use your abilities to change the things that stand in the way of living a good life (1).


Who is in charge of the RECOVERY Process?

Recovery is a personal choice. Only you can decide what you want your life to be like and the best way of achieving this. Mental health staff and mental health services cannot, in themselves, practice recovery. This can only be lived by you and your family. However, our services can work towards creating an environment where you can make decisions about your life and be supported in achieving them (7) 

As a service we are commiteed to supporting you in your journey, by enabling you to use your personal resources and build a self-determined meaningful and satisfying life.


1. Helen Glover (2010) Unpacking practices that support personal efforts of "recovery." A resource book for workers and practitioners within the mental health sector

2. Allot & Longanathon (2003) cited in Irish Mental Health Commission 2008, A recovery apporach within the Irish mental health service: A framework for development

3. SAMHSA (2011) SAMHSA announces a working definition of "recovery" from mental disorders and substance use disorders,

 4. Pat Deegan (1988) Recovery: the lived experience of rehabilitation, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, volume 11 (4)

5. William Anthony (1993) Recovery from mental illness: The guiding vision of the mental health service system in the 1900's, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, volume 16 (4): 11-23

6. Mary Ellen Copeland (2006) Involuntary commitment and recovery: An innovative mental health peer support program

7. G Shepherd, J Boardmand & M Slade (2008) Making recovery a reality, Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health

Recovery is possible for everyone - it is a process of change, through which you can improve your health and wellness, live a self directed life, and strive to reach your full potential

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