The Recovery Process

Mental health problems are a normal part of life. People can and do recover. Mental health recovery is a process of healing and transformation that allows you to live a full life and achieve your potential.

Your recovery from a mental health problem is unique to you, just like all the rest of your experiences. Be patient with yourself, and look for good information and support. The right support should help you to keep in touch with your feelings and experiences and to identify your needs.

Because each person’s recovery is a unique experience, what works for one person may not work as well for another. The best way to find out what works for you is to learn about all the treatments and therapies available and make an informed decision. Some people find it helpful to share experience with others and learn together about different approaches to recovery.

Recovery is an ongoing process. Don’t worry if you have ups and downs and setbacks. This is normal. Recovery takes a lot of work and courage.

A holistic approach

A ‘holistic’ approach means looking at how the mind, body, emotions and spirit are all connected. Each element contributes to our wellbeing. No one element can be dealt with in isolation.

Some treatment options that can be part of a recovery journey are outlined below:


Medication can reduce the impact of symptoms of mental ill health for a lot of people. However, some people find the benefits of the medication are outweighed by unwanted side effects.

Some side effects of medication include:

  • Feeling drowsy
  • Having a dry mouth
  • Having too much saliva
  • Feeling restless
  • Weight gain

Many people find it difficult to keep taking their medication and frequently give it up. However this can be dangerous and may not aid your recovery. Never stop or adjust your prescribed dose without discussing this with your doctor.

Choosing a suitable medication can take some time. People react to medication in different ways so what works for one person might not work for another. Talking the decision through with your doctor or nurse is a good way to make sure you know what to expect and choose the option that suits you best.

Treatment with medication works best when it is combined with ‘talking’ therapies.

Talking Therapies

There are lots of talking therapies to choose from. In general, these aim to ease distress and improve your coping skills. They can help you to better understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Talking therapies can make a big difference to your quality of life. They can help you to prepare to go out and interact with the world in the way you want.

Like any therapy, it may take some time to decide which talking therapy is right for you. Some different types include:


Counselling is one-to-one talking treatment. It is less structured than some other forms of talking therapy. Counsellors listen without judgement to what’s going on for you and can help you to explore your options and any issues that are important for you in your recovery process.

Counsellors guide you to focus on your issues in a practical and constructive way. They won’t give you direct advice, but will give you the tools you need to work things out for yourself.


In Psychotherapy, you will explore your outlook on the world and where you see yourself in it. This kind of exploration can be helpful for anxiety, depression and emotional distress.

The relationship between you and your psychotherapist is an important tool in helping you to explore your feelings, thoughts and behaviour and to understand how current problems link to past experiences.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is especially effective for treating depression and anxiety. In CBT, a therapist will help you to pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs, and look at how they are linked to your behaviour. CBT can teach you practical skills to manage your mood that you can apply to your life going forward.

Support groups

Some people find it useful to talk about their experiences with others who have been through similar challenges. This can be helpful to learn new ways of coping with mental health problems and also to grow your support network to assist your recovery.

Complementary therapies

Some people find complementary therapies useful in supporting their recovery. These include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga

Tips on looking after your mental health and recovery journey

Whatever programme of care you have decided on, you are the expert on how you feel. It’s good to think about how you cope on a day-to-day basis and how you may be able to avoid problems. You might find it helpful to bear in mind some of the points below:

  1. Try to structure your day. This structure needn’t be rigid but a set number of activities planned in advance can help to make you feel more positive and motivated. Try to engage in at least one daily physical activity such as going for a walk or painting.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you have setbacks. Some days will be easier than others. Try to keep active and do things you enjoy. You may have to push yourself to do things at first but it will get easier in time.
  3. Remember that mental health problems are normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. You may feel guilty or ashamed of your experiences at times, but what has happened to you is not your fault. Letting go of shame can really help your recovery in the long run.
  4. Find someone to talk to. It is a good idea to share your problems with someone you can trust and who you feel safe and comfortable with, someone you can talk to when situations are difficult to cope with.
  5. Find out about local support groups. You may find it useful to share your experiences with other people and to hear how they have coped in similar situations. Some people gain a great deal from being involved in these groups, including new contacts and sometimes, new friends. Shine has ‘Phrenz’ groups for people with schizophrenia and related illnesses throughout the country.
  6. Try to eat well and drink less alcohol. Diet has a real and measurable impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing. Eating a healthy balanced diet can make you feel better. It is also important not to drink too much alcohol. Drinking alcohol may make you feel anxious or depressed and it also reacts badly with most medications.
  7. Rest when you need to. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take a break and relax at regular intervals during the day.
  8. Embrace your individuality. Do things that make you feel good about yourself and who you are.

Contact us for more information or support for your recovery.

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