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Recovery is the personal process that people with mental illness go through in gaining control, meaning and purpose in their lives. Recovery involves different things for different people. For some, recovery means the complete absence of the symptoms of mental illness. For others, recovery means living a full life in the community while learning to live with ongoing symptoms.

The goal of many mental health services and treatments is now recovery. This wasn’t always the case. In the past, mental health professionals told people with mental illness and their families that most illnesses got worse over time. People were told to lower their expectations.

People with mental illness challenged these pessimistic assumptions. Researchers began to study how consumers lived their lives over the decades and found that many people did in fact get better. New and more effective medical treatments and social supports developed.

Recovery involves changes in the way individuals with mental illness think, act and feel about themselves and the possibilities in their lives. It also requires changes in the ways services are funded and organized, mental health professionals are trained, and success is measured. Recovery is about transforming the mental health system so that it truly puts the person at the centre.

Consumer Participation at CMHA Toronto

In 2007 CMHA Toronto began a Consumer Participation Initiative to ensure that we operate from a recovery perspective, and that we engage consumers in all levels of the organization.  We focus on four strategic areas:

  • Hiring consumer/survivors at CMHA Toronto in both peer and non-peer positions
  • Enhancing peer support within the various programs at CMHA Toronto
  • Involving consumer/survivors in program planning and evaluation activities at CMHA Toronto
  • Building supportive environments for consumer/survivors to be involved in systemic advocacy


The Meaningful Lives statement is a basic statement of the rights of young people with psychosis to pursue employment, education and training, the evidence which exists about interventions to help them do this, and ways in which individuals, organizations and governments can assist the attainment of these ends.  The statement is relevant to practice with young people with first episode and early psychosis who are seeking to reconnect – or stay connected – with employment, education or training. It calls for evidence based interventions to assist them with these goals.

Recovery Articles

100 Ways to Support Recovery – Rethink

Deegan 1996 Recovery Journey of the Heart

Deegan 1998 Recovery The Lived Experience

Mead Copeland What Recovery Means To Us

Helpful Links

Recovery Wire Magazine is a bi-monthly publication for people who have been impacted by addiction. Our mission is to unite and educate the broader recovery community by providing a medium for discussing addiction related topics. Our aim is to reinvent what it means to be a person in recovery, by publishing a trendy and provoking recovery-based magazine.

National Empowerment Center
videos, books around resources

WRAP and Resources on Recovery (from Mary Ellen Copeland)

University of Kansas – Pathways to Recovery

Papers written by Pat Deegan

Canadian Coalition of Alternative Mental Health Resources -consumer focused sharing of resources

Wonderful resource from UK

CMHA Ontario

Psych Central
large listing of resources

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Resource Guides

“Making Choices” guide – comprehensive guide to mental health services, supports and resources

Navigating Mental Health services for Immigrant Communities