Recovering from Mental Illness


Recovering from mental illness does not mean the same thing for everyone. For many people, recovering means returning to good health and how things were before the symptoms appeared. For others, recovering from a mental illness means learning to deal with symptoms and new limitations so they can live a satisfactory and fulfilling life.

Definition of Recovery

People with a mental illness can recover. They are recovered when they:

  • Understand their own limitations better
  • Regain control of their lives by developing new skills and abilities
  • Recognize their strengths and take advantage of them
  • Take decisions that concern them and find solutions suited to the condition of their health
  • Continue to hope that the situation will improve
  • Lead active lives
  • Feel appreciated and contribute to life in society and in the community
  • Develop a positive outlook and maintain a satisfying and fulfilling life
  • Learn to live with their mental illness despite symptoms
  • Keep in mind that difficult situations are also an opportunity for change

Mental illness is just one aspect of a person’s life. Recovery takes on its full meaning when one accepts this instead of allowing the illness to invade all areas of life.

As such, a person with mental illness must take control of his or her life. The person must acknowledge and accept that his or her road to recovery is dotted with successes but also with obstacles and difficulties. To regain control of his or her life, the person must be able to experience success and pleasure and contribute to society.

Tips for Recovering from Mental Illness

You can learn to cope with your mental illness if you seek help that is appropriate to the condition of your health. Many simple measures can help you:

Know your medical condition and the appropriate treatments and resources for your situation

Knowing your medical condition and the treatments that are available can help you better recognize the symptoms of mental illness and make the right decisions.

Also, find community resources that can support you in your recovery. Among these resources, identify which ones offer services in crisis situations.

If you are well informed, you can act fast to prevent a relapse, use available resources as needed and recover better.

Your rights and recourse regarding choice of treatment

Health and social services professionals must provide you with all the necessary information to allow you to choose treatments in a free and informed way. They must give you complete information in language that you understand.

If you need assistance and accompaniment to understand your rights or to have them enforced, you can receive free services. To learn more, contact a mental-health rights and advocacy association in your area. To find contact information for the association in your area, visit the Association des groupes d’intervention en défense des droits en santé mentale du Québec This link opens a new (Québec association for mental health rights advocacy groups – available in French only).

Be well prepared for appointments with your health-care professional and have someone accompany you when necessary

Being well prepared for your appointments with your health-care professional enables you to take full advantage of these meetings. For example, in order not to forget anything, write down details regarding your symptoms and questions that you would like to discuss with him or her.

You may benefit from going to your appointment with someone you trust, especially at the beginning. During your appointment with the health-care professional, this person can help you better describe your situation and state of health. After the appointment, this person can help you remember the information you received and discuss it with you. This person can also offer support if you need it.

Talk with someone who has recovered or who is in the process of recovering from a mental illness

Join forces with those who have already experienced the same situations as you. Meeting people who have experienced the same thing as you and talking with them can help you in many ways. It helps with the search for solutions, improves quality of life and helps fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Encourage your friends and family to seek help as needed

Mental illness is painful for the person experiencing it, but it is also difficult for the person’s family and friends who want to help and be useful. The recovery process is better when the person with a mental illness receives help, along with the people around him or her. Many resources are intended for the loved ones of people suffering from a mental illness. Encourage your family and friends to consult these resources so that they can understand your symptoms and help. To learn more, read Living With a Person Suffering From Mental Illness.

Help and Resources

Last update: September 27, 2016 11:49 AM


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