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Recovery and Mental Health: Exploring the Basic Characteristics of Living Well with Mental Illness

Lauren Cripps, Colleen Deyell Hood


A considerable body of literature exists to substantiate the contention that individuals can live well with mental illness. The purpose of this paper is to provide a broad introduction to recovery for individuals living with mental illness and/or struggling with mental health. Recovery is defined in this paper as a process of self-development that involves change in a number of areas related to well-being. In particular, this paper examines six key characteristics of recovery: acceptance, hope, identity, pleasurable life events, agency/autonomy, and social connections/ engagement. Finally, these characteristics are linked to leisure and to therapeutic recreation practice through the lens of the Leisure and Well-Being Model, providing implications for practice for therapeutic recreation professionals.

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Leisure; Mental Health; Recovery; Therapeutic Recreation; Well-Being

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