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You Can Support Someone’s Journey to Recovery

If you or someone you know has experienced a mental health or substance use challenge, you know just how hard it can be. It’s important to keep in mind that recovery can happen with the right tools and support.

What is recovery? The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum describes it as a process of change through which people improve their health and mental wellbeing, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential. More narrowly, “recovery” can also describe the period of time when a person comes to accept and learns to work to overcome the challenges of their illness. It’s not the same as being “cured;” people who recover still live with their challenge, but lead healthy and fulfilling lives with healthy coping mechanisms and a robust support network.

As a First Aider, you can play a big role in someone’s recovery journey, simply by giving them hope. Hope is the foundation of recovery, and it may be the most valuable contribution you can make in supporting someone.

According to the MHFA curriculum, there are four major dimensions of recovery:

  1. Health – Overcoming or managing one’s challenge or symptoms and making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
  2. Home – Having a stable and safe place to live.
  3. Purpose – Conducting meaningful daily activities and having the independence, income and resources to participate in society.
  4. Community – Having relationships and social networks that provide support and friendship.

Recovery isn’t linear. Setbacks are part of the process as a person learns and adjusts to the many changes that may emerge along their journey. And they’re not failures – setbacks help build long-term resilience. You can support someone’s recovery by helping them get to a meeting of others experiencing similar issues, being available to listen if they need to talk, or encouraging them to pursue growth opportunities like finding a new job or continuing education. You can also offer them reassurance by telling them — and demonstrating — you are there to support them every step of the way.

Playing an active, positive role in someone’s recovery can better their chances of moving through recovery to a period of wellbeing. Mental wellbeing allows a person to perform well at work and in their social relationships. It occurs when a person aims to balance the emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual and environmental dimensions of their lives in a way that works for them.

Recovery isn’t an easy process – and it looks different from person to person. As a First Aider, it’s crucial that you support your friend or loved one as they learn new strategies to cope and recover. Your encouragement will #BeTheDifference as they navigate this new chapter of their lives.

For more ways you can support a loved on their recovery journey, take a look at our other blogs:

Inspiring Hope as a Mental Health First Aider

Five Ways to Support a Loved One with Anxiety or Depression



Mental Health First Aid USA. (2020). Mental Health First Aid. Washington, DC: National Council for Mental Wellbeing.


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