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William Anthony, Director of the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation identifies recovery as "a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness."

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s 10 Fundamental Components of Recovery

  • Self-Direction: Consumers lead, control, exercise choice over, and determine their own path of recovery by optimizing autonomy, independence, and control of resources to achieve a self-determined life. 
  • Individualized and Person-Centered: There are multiple pathways to recovery based on an individual’s unique strengths and resiliencies as well as his or her needs, preferences, experiences (including past trauma), and cultural background in all of its diverse representations. 
  • Empowerment: Consumers have the authority to choose from a range of options and to participate in all decisions—including the allocation of resources—that will affect their lives, and are educated and supported in so doing. 
  • Holistic: Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. Recovery embraces all aspects of life.
  • Non-Linear: Recovery is not a step-by-step process but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience. 
  • Strengths-Based: Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, coping abilities, and inherent worth of individuals.  
  • Peer Support: Mutual support—including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills and social learning—plays an invaluable role in recovery. 
  • Respect: Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation of consumers —including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination and stigma—are crucial in achieving recovery. Self-acceptance and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly vital. 
  • Responsibility: Consumers have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. 
  • Hope: Recovery provides the essential and motivating message of a better future— that people can and do overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized; but can be fostered by peers, families, friends, providers, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process. 

The "Recovery Oriented Systems Indicator," or ROSI, survey looks at what helps mental health recovery and what hinders it to help Virginia provide the best possible mental health services. There are two versions of the survey: One for individuals receiving services that focuses on the things that have helped or hurt their progress during the past six (6) months. The survey is anonymous and does not ask for any identifying information. It is also available in Spanish. There is also a ROSI survey for providers and is meant to profile any local conditions that many help or hinder mental health recovery for individuals in the providers' communities. Click here to learn more about the ROSI surveys.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, empowerment is the belief that one has power and control in their life, including their illness. Empowerment also involves taking responsibility for self and advocating for self and others. As consumers grow in their recovery journeys, they gain a greater sense of empowerment in their lives. 

Wellness Tools and Techniques for Recovering Individuals 

“Self-determination refers to the right of individuals to have full power over their own lives, regardless of presence of illness or disability. It encompasses concepts such as free will, civil and human rights, freedom of choice, independence, personal agency, self-direction, and individual responsibility. Self-determination in the mental health system refers to individuals’ rights to direct their own services, to make the decisions concerning their health and well-being (with help from others of their choice, if desired), to be free from involuntary treatment, and to have a meaningful leadership role in the design, delivery and evaluation of services and supports.”

[Source: The UIC National Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability]