Recovery.  What does it mean to you? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) wants your help defining recovery in mental health. The goal is to assist everyone involved in behavioral health systems – from policy makers to consumers – to design, deliver and measure integrated and holistic services that more effectively meet the needs of those served by the behavioral and mental health community.

As part of its Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has been developing a working definition of recovery that encapsulates the experiences of people recovering from mental and substance use disorders. The definition also reflects the 10 guiding principles of recovery. Over the past year, SAMSHA has worked with the behavioral health field to develop this definition and now they want to hear from the public.

Below are the current definition and the guiding principles.


Definition of Recovery from Mental and Substance Use Disorders: A process of change through which individuals work to improve their own health and well-being, live a self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential.

Guiding Principles of Recovery:

  • Recovery is person-driven.
  • Recovery occurs via many pathways.
  • Recovery is holistic.
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
  • Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks.
  • Recovery is culturally based and influenced.
  • Recovery is supported by addressing trauma.
  • Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility.
  • Recovery is based on respect.
  • Recovery emerges from hope.

What do you think? Now is your chance to weigh in and tell SAMSHA what recovery means to you. You have until Friday, August 26 to provide your feedback!