• Vol. 46 No. 1, 29–31
  • 15 January 2017

Personal Recovery in Serious Mental Illness: Making Sense of the Concept



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Traditionally, clinicians and healthcare users alike use the term “recovery” to imply a return to a premorbid state. This form of clinical recovery is objective, measureable and is a clear health outcome. In the past decade, an alternative to clinical recovery, also known as personal recovery, has gained traction in mental health and has impacted numerous mental health systems. Originally, personal recovery was conceptualised as an individually unique ongoing process for individuals with serious mental illness that emphasises on growth and potential for recovery, but it has also been proposed to be a clinical outcome for mental health professionals. In this commentary, we discuss the differences in the 2 models of recovery and attempt to illustrate the concepts behind personal recovery so as to clarify its usage in people with serious mental illnesses.

The literature surrounding the recovery movement in mental health is abound and in this movement, we have heard a growing optimism in the possibility of recovery from serious mental illness. The term “recovery” has connotations of regaining a premorbid form of health.

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