Can people who have serious mental illness reach and maintain recovery?

Historically, recovery from SMI was not considered likely or even possible. However, a range of evidence over the last two decades indicates that around 65% of people with SMI experience partial to full recovery over time. Recovery does not necessarily mean the absence of symptoms. Recovery from SMI is defined in both objective and subjective ways. This incorporates concepts that go beyond just having stable symptoms. It includes well-being, quality of life, functioning, and a sense of hope and optimism. Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

The four major dimensions that support recovery are health, home, purpose, and community.

  • Health – overcome or manage one’s disease(s) or symptoms, and make informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being
  • Home – have a stable and safe place to live
  • Purpose – conduct meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society
  • Community – have relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope

Individuals should identify their recovery goals and receive support for them in their treatment plans.

Learn more about common myths around SMI and recovery. See our infographic on this topic.




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