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How Do I Begin?

How/Where Do I Begin?

Mental health recovery is a journey: Like all journeys, it begins with a single step. The recovery journey is unique to each individual and there’s not a specific place to begin. The important thing is to take that first step, then keep going, and gather resources along the way to find success and satisfaction.

The descriptors below may mean different things to different people. However, they are ideas that have helped others, and may be some things that you want to think about as you start to work towards your recovery. You may have other ideas that are useful for your situation and life experience.

Please select one of the pie pieces to help you start your journey.


SELF-DIRECTION: Get in the driver's seat for your own care. Think about a new path for your future. Be open to new ideas about your treatment. Develop a support network. Help plan your own care.

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INDIVIDUALIZED and PERSON-CENTERED:Understand that illness is only one piece of who you are. View yourself as a whole person with all the roles and things that make you, YOU! Share information about yourself with your partners in care and people who care about you. Think about the change you want to make. Be open to new possibilities. Seek information about recovery.

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EMPOWERMENT: Make choices and changes that you want. Ask questions until you understand. Think about the change you want to make. Discover additional ways to make decisions. Learn about the resources at your VA and in your community.

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HOLISTIC: Pay attention to wellness in your mind, body, and spirit. Engage in healthy activities on a regular basis. Involve at least one special person in your plans for your life. Volunteer to help others. Explore healthy ways to have fun and enjoy your life.

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NON-LINEAR: Understand that all journeys have twists and turns. Your recovery journey will too. See a setback as a recovery step, not a failure. Share ideas for next steps with people who care about you. Think, “It’s important to keep trying.” Review and revise your care plan when needed. Learn a new coping skill from a friend and share it with another.

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STRENGTHS-BASED: Recovery comes from your strengths. Recovery does not focus only on your symptoms or problems. Ask yourself, “What am I good at? What do I do well?” This will help you rediscover your strengths. Participate in a variety of activities: art, music, sports and games, etc. Look for chances to learn new skills and meet new people. Share your experiences, skills, and interests with others.

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PEER SUPPORT: Connect with others who help you or are interested in helping you. Search for support in the community. Listen with respect to other's views. Understanding things from their point of view helps not only them but also you. Share your story with others. As you grow, think of how you can support others in their recovery.

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RESPECT: You are the expert on yourself and your situation. Your expertise is important in making treatment decisions. Ask for the information you need. Make your personal needs known. Talk about what works and does not work for you. Learn to express yourself in a way that others can hear and understand you.

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RESPONSIBILITY: Take charge of your actions and decisions. Design your own Individual Recovery Plan. Track your symptoms and progress towards your goals. Ask for help when needed. Plan for times when you will be well and when you will need help. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise, sleep and have fun. Work with others who support you.

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HOPE: Keep a positive approach to life. Spend time with people who share your hope for yourself. Believe that things will get better in your life. Focus on what you are able to do. Talk about your success. Be open to new possibilities. Develop a plan to cope with stress. Your recovery is possible; when you reach your goals set new ones. Find something to look forward to.

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For more information about Mental Health Recovery, choose one of the following topics

Understanding Mental Health Recovery

Tools that may be Helpful to Keep with you Along your Journey

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