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Key Themes of Recovery

While recovery is a unique and individual experience it is possible to identify key themes and ideas in relation to the experience. The following list, while not exhaustive, highlights some of the most commonly identified elements.

Recovery as a journey

The recovery journey can have ups and downs and some people describe being in recovery rather than recovered to reflect this.

Hope, optimism and strengths

Hope is widely acknowledged as key to recovery. There can be no change without the belief that a better life is both possible and attainable. One way to realise a more hopeful approach is to find ways to focus on strengths.

More than recovery from illness

Some people describe being in recovery while still experiencing symptoms. For some it is about recovering a life and identity beyond the experience of mental ill health.

Control, choice and inclusion

Taking control can be hard but many people describe how it important it is to find a way to take an active and responsible role in their own recovery. Control is supported by the inclusion of people with experience of mental health issues in their communities. It is reduced by the experience of exclusion, stigma and discrimination.

Self management

One way to gain more control over recovery is to develop and use self management techniques. One such self management tool which SRN promotes is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan.

Finding meaning and purpose

We all find meaning in very different ways. Some people may find spirituality important, while others may find meaning through employment or the development of stronger interpersonal or community links. Many people describe the importance of feeling valued and of contributing as active members of a community.


Supportive relationships based on belief, trust and shared humanity help promote recovery.