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Recovering from mental illness

Definition of recovery

People experience recovery in different ways. It is a process where a person works towards having a satisfying and fulfilling life despite their mental illness and possible symptoms.

People with a mental illness can recover. A number of factors support the process of recovery:

  • Knowing one’s own limitations
  • Taking back control of one’s life by developing new skills and new abilities
  • Recognizing one’s strengths and using them
  • Making decisions and finding solutions that are appropriate for one’s condition
  • Continuing to hope that the situation will improve
  • Leading an active life
  • Feeling appreciated, respected and heard
  • Contributing to society and community
  • Seeing oneself in a positive way
  • Learning to live with one’s  mental illness despite the symptoms
  • Keeping in mind that difficult situations are also an opportunity for change

A person’s recovery will not necessarily be straightforward. On the path to recovery, a person may make steps forward, but they may also experience setbacks and even take steps backward.

Learn about your condition and the appropriate treatments and resources for your situation

Knowing about your condition and the treatments that are available can help you recognize the symptoms of mental illness more easily and make better 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 will be able to act more quickly to prevent relapses, use available resources when you need them and recover better.

Your rights and recourse regarding choice of treatment

Health and social services professionals must provide you with all the information you need to make free and informed decisions about your treatment. They must give you complete information in language that you understand.

If you need assistance or support to understand your rights or to make sure they are respected, you can obtain free services. To find out more, contact the mental health rights advocacy group in your area. To find contact information for the group in your area, visit the Association des groupes d’intervention en défense des droits en santé mentale du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. website (in French only).

Be well prepared for appointments with your healthcare professional and have someone to go with you if necessary

By being well prepared for your appointments with your healthcare professional, you will be able to get the most out of these meetings. For example, to make sure you don’t forget anything, write down any questions you would like to ask and details about your symptoms that you would like to discuss with them.

It may help if you go to your appointment with someone you trust, especially at the beginning of your recovery. During your appointment with the healthcare professional, this person can help you describe your situation and your condition better. After the appointment, they can help you remember the information you were given and talk with you about what the professional told you. They can also offer you their support if you need it.

Talk to people who have recovered or who are in the process of recovering from a mental illness

Join forces with people 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 various ways. It can help you find solutions, improve your quality of life and helps fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Encourage your friends and family to seek help if necessary

Mental illness is tough for the person who is affected, but can also be difficult for their family and friends who want to help and be useful. The recovery process is better when both the person with a mental illness and their family and friends receive help. There are many resources available for the loved ones of people suffering from a mental illness. Encourage your family and friends to consult these resources so that they can stay fully involved with you. To find out more, consult the page Living With a Person Suffering From Mental Illness.

Help and resources

Information and support resources

Resources are available for getting help or further information on mental health and mental illness. See the Help and resources section of the Mental Illness page.

Last update: October 25, 2018


Information on the website in no way replaces the opinion of a health professional. If you have questions concerning your health status, consult a professional.


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