What is mental health recovery and how does it work?

The topic of mental health recovery is broad topic and can encompass many different principles. These principles are lived out in daily life to support recovery both now and in the future. For the focus on this blog post, mental health recovery will apply to those with mood diagnoses (bipolar, depression, or anxiety disorders), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), thought disorders/psychosis, and trauma/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All of these diagnoses/challenges can include or be influenced by substance or alcohol use/abuse. Mental health recovery is an individual process for each person and made up of various aspects. 

Health and wellness relates to how a person’s physical health impacts their mental health symptom presentation and vice versa For example, hormonal imbalance or issues with a person’s thyroid can impact mood lability. A person’s health can impact their engagement in positive habits or activities, i.e. bowling, fitness, exercise groups, or eating healthy. Wellness may be influenced by a person’s overall lifestyle and a person’s overall acceptance of their position in life, work, family, and community. 

Harm-reduction or sobriety refers to the quantity of a substance(s) or alcohol is consumed on a routine basis. A person working in the harm-reduction model looks to slowly decrease substance(s) or alcohol use to a point that it is not causing adverse effects in their life. Sobriety refers to when a person can no longer use substance(s) and/or alcohol and they need to quit use entirely to support recovery. Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, or other support groups can act as a support network for individuals in recovery. 

Fostering a person’s ability to cope with stress appropriately can support their recovery process as well. These can be identified via discussions with others to highlight the activities or hobbies that help a person self-soothe. This can include exercise, painting, going for a walk, or taking a cold shower. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

Self-care plays a vital role in recovery as no one person can charge forward in life in perpetuity without taking care of themselves. Think about what ‘fills your bucket’ when finding activities that support self-care. Maybe it is a massage or spa day or maybe it is time in nature. Each person is different in how they recharge and what they need to do recharge. Find what works for you. 

Psychiatric medications can support one’s recovery process by decreasing mental health symptoms and increasing their baseline functioning level.  Typically, an in-depth assessment is needed prior to the prescription of psychiatric medications. 

Lastly, therapeutic support can help support a person moving toward recovery by working through challenging thought processes, emotions, and/or past traumatic experiences. Therapeutic support in combination with psychiatric medications may yield the best results for a person in recovery. 

None of these principles work alone to support recovery. They may be integrated at different levels and different levels of intensity.

If you or someone you know needs therapeutic support due to mental health challenges do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist near you. We offer a free 20-minute consultation to ensure we are a good fit. 

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