What is Recovery?

The concept of "recovery" in mental health refers to living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life, even when a person may be experiencing ongoing symptoms of a mental health problem or illness. Recovery journeys build on individual, family, cultural, and community strengths and can be supported by many types of services, supports, and treatments. 

Recovery principles, including hope, dignity, self-determination, and responsibility, can be adapted to the realities of different life stages, and to the full range of mental health problems and illnesses. Recovery is not only possible, it should be expected.

Championed by people with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses for decades, recovery is being widely embraced by practitioners, service providers, and policy makers in Canada and around the world. It is recognized as key to achieving better mental health outcomes and improving mental health systems.

In recovery oriented practice, service providers engage in shared decision-making with people with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses, offering a range of services and supports to fully meet a person’s goals and needs. 

Recovery approaches stand on two pillars:

  • Recognizing that each person is unique, with the right to determine their path toward mental health and wellbeing; and,
  • Understanding that we live in complex societies where many intersecting factors (biological, psychological, social, economic, cultural, and spiritual) have an impact on mental health and wellbeing.


What are we doing?

The MHCC is committed to learning from and working with all stakeholders to accelerate this shift. To help people involved in implementing recovery-oriented practices, the MHCC recovery initiative developed three key initiatives:

Food for thought: A youth perspective on recovery-oriented practice
This video, developed with our Youth Council, breaks down what youth see as some of the core principles of recovery-oriented mental health and addiction services. It uses the metaphor of a restaurant to provide an out-of-the-box, light-hearted demonstration of the key concepts of recovery-oriented practice. It is not intended to have all the answers, but to provoke creative thought and start a discussion among service providers about how they could better support and work with youth in a recovery-oriented mental health and addiction setting.

Want more? Use the discussion guide to help direct your self-reflection or to facilitate critical discussions with others.