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  1. Understanding the term recovery
  2. Steps for recovery
  3. Finding a mental health service near you

Mental Illnesses can vary in severity and duration. Some may require short to medium term treatment while others may be lifetime conditions.

Some of us will fully recover from the illness and no longer have it and some of us will be diagnosed with a lifelong illness which will require ongoing monitoring and treatment.

How we learn to live and manage the condition will determine the impact it has in term of the quality of our lives.

Understanding the term recovery

Just because you are diagnosed with a lifelong illness doesn’t mean that your life is over. The term recovery does not simply mean an end state.

Recovery can also refer to living and managing conditions which can come and go such as depression or Bipolar and Anxiety Disorder.

Recovery therefore also means living a quality life even with certain limitations that an illness can present itself with.

Recovery is a process, that may come with its challenges and hurdles along the way. It is a journey, a journey that you decide, and it is about taking small steps to make a change happen and that’s going to be different for every single one of us.

Acceptance is also part of recovery, it can help heal the mental fatigue and helps the body and mind heal. It’s about recognising your own strengths and limitations and learning to be responsible for your own journey of recovery even when diagnosed with longer term mental illness.

Yes, mental illness can place restrictions on us, however finding that inner belief can truly help you accept the diagnosis and discover new ways to live your best life.

Steps for recovery


It’s ok to be diagnosed with an illness, it does not mean you are a failure or it’s your fault, and acknowledging this is the first step in recovery

Take action

Learn what you can do to help yourself. What treatments are available, what groups are there to support you. Learn what other steps you can take to help yourself

Be responsible

Medication and doctors of course can help, however we have to take responsibility for helping ourselves and not blaming others or expecting others to make change happen

Reach out for help

You do not have to do this on your own. Getting help from others can really boost recovery.

Recovery colleges are a great resource here in Northern Ireland with a range of courses. You will also get incredible peer support from others who too are living with an illness


Hope is extremely important. Check out our fact sheet on hope for further understanding of the importance of this

Be Aware

Learn more about your illness. Knowledge can provide you with the power to have the right resources to support you. Understand your diagnosis, understand the possible impact it can have on you and what you can do to help yourself.

Become aware of your triggers and protective measures. Become aware when you recognise when you are not well and build a support network around you


Start to recognise your unhealthy thinking patterns, for example, “I’m too tired” “I can’t do this”. Learn techniques to help turn these around


Start to bring in behaviours that will help you, avoid staying in bed, plan reasons to get out of bed, make routines again, there are other things that you can do, learn what works best for you.


Be realistic about what you expect, some days may not go according to plan. This is normal, learning to accept setbacks and bouncing back is needed as part of your recovery


Things will not change overnight, be patient with yourself, allow yourself time to change and believe that you have the power to make change happen.

Remember, even with the diagnosis of an illness you can regain good mental health with some of the tips above. The illness does not define you as a person, don’t let it stop you living your life well.

Check out your recovery college in your Trust area and see what they can do to support you. This is the first step in your recovery journey.

Finding a service for you

You can locate details of the Extern's mental health services which may be near you here.