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Recovery and mental health

3-minute read

When you’re talking about mental health, recovery is about living a satisfying life, in spite of facing mental health challenges.

There are a range of services available that can help you do this. The first step is to see your doctor, who can give you advice and refer you to some helpful local services.

What is mental health recovery?

The majority of people who are diagnosed with a mental illness recover, but it can be difficult to predict when, or to what extent, you are going to get better.

Recovery is about the whole of your life, not just your symptoms. It involves:

  • finding hope, and developing your self-esteem and resilience
  • having a sense of purpose and meaning in your life
  • building healthy relationships with people in your community
  • gaining independence in your life.

Recovery is not the same as a cure. It makes sense to many people because it concentrates on you as a person, rather than just a set of symptoms.

What is the ‘recovery approach’ to mental health?

The ‘recovery approach’ to mental illness is about helping you take control of your own life.

When you take the recovery approach, you work as a team with your doctor and other health professionals to make joint decisions about how to manage your mental health.

Promoting a recovery approach to mental healthcare is part of Australia’s national mental health strategy.

What is a mental health recovery plan?

A mental health recovery plan (also called a wellness recovery action plan) is a plan designed to help you:

  • work out what sort of life you want to lead
  • work out what you can do to get there
  • keep track of changes in your mental health
  • identify and manage things that might make your mental state worse (‘triggers’).

For example, you might decide you want to live on your own, find a part-time job, or re-connect with your family. Together with your mental health team, you can work out how best to get what you want, and how you can get help along the way.

How do I get help with my recovery?

Many mental health services can help with your recovery. You can ask your doctor or search for services in your local area.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, your doctor can help you get affordable access to other health professionals, such as psychologists — see our mental health care plan page.

Support is also available from:


Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2017

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