At a 2004 National Consensus Conference on Mental Health Recovery and Mental Health Systems Transformation convened by SAMHSA, patients, health-care professionals, researchers and others agreed on 10 core principles undergirding a recovery orientation:

  • Self-direction: Consumers determine their own path to recovery.

  • Individualized and person-centered: There are multiple pathways to recovery based on individuals’ unique strengths, needs, preferences, experiences and cultural backgrounds.

  • Empowerment: Consumers can choose among options and participate in all decisions that affect them.

  • Holistic: Recovery focuses on people’s entire lives, including mind, body, spirit and community.

  • Nonlinear: Recovery isn’t a step-by-step process but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks and learning from experience.

  • Strengths-based: Recovery builds on people’s strengths.

  • Peer support: Mutual support plays an invaluable role in recovery.

  • Respect: Acceptance and appreciation by society, communities, systems of care and consumers themselves are crucial to recovery.

  • Responsibility: Consumers are responsible for their own self-care and journeys of recovery.

  • Hope: Recovery’s central, motivating message is a better future — that people can and do overcome obstacles.