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As an exercise physiology student on a mental health placement, you may hear members of staff discuss the concept of 'recovery' or the 'recovery model'. Below you will find a brief introduction to the concept of recovery in a mental health setting.


The information provided is not intended as a tool for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. If you would like to talk to someone about your own mental health, please speak to your GP or your university counselling service.



The information below has been reproduced from a Commonwealth of Australia resource. The reference is at the bottom of the page.


From the perspective of the individual with mental illness, recovery means gaining and retaining

hope, understanding of ones abilities and disabilities, engagement in an active life, personal

autonomy, social identity, meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self.


It is important to remember that recovery is not synonymous with cure. Recovery refers to

both internal conditions experienced by persons who describe themselves as being in recovery—

hope, healing, empowerment and connection—and external conditions that facilitate

recovery—implementation of human rights, a positive culture of healing, and recovery-oriented

services. (Jacobson and Greenley, 2001 p. 482)


The purpose of principles of recovery oriented mental health practice is to ensure that mental health

services are being delivered in a way that supports the recovery of mental health consumers.


1. Uniqueness of the individual


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• recognises that recovery is not necessarily about cure but is about having opportunities for

choices and living a meaningful, satisfying and purposeful life, and being a valued member

of the community

• accepts that 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.


2. Real choices


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• supports and empowers individuals to make their own choices about how they want to

lead their lives and acknowledges choices need to be meaningful and creatively explored

• supports individuals to build on their strengths and take as much responsibility for their

lives as they can at any given time

• 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.


3. Attitudes and rights


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• 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 individual’s legal, citizenship and human rights

• supports individuals to maintain and develop social, recreational, occupational and

vocational activities which are meaningful to the individual

• instils hope in an individual’s future and ability to live a meaningful life.


4. Dignity and respect


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• 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 own services or the

broader community.


5. Partnership and communication


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• 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

realise their own hopes, goals and aspirations.



6. Evaluating recovery


Recovery oriented mental health practice:

• ensures and enables continuous evaluation of recovery based practice at several levels

• 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 including (but not

limited to) housing, employment, education and social and family relationships as well as

health and well being measures.


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




  1. Commonwealth of Australia (2010) National Standards for Mental Health Services: Principles of recovery oriented mental health practice

Available from:$File/servpri.pdf (accessed on 26/11/2015)


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