The importance of hope against other factors in the recovery of mental illness

Psychiatr Danub. 2017 Sep;29(Suppl 3):619-622.


Hope underpins the recovery process of mental illness, as recovery depends on the notion that a patient desires to get better. This makes hope the route by which it occurs. Here, we assess the importance of hope in recovery by exploring what recovery means; the relevance of hope and other factors in achieving it; and finally, the difficulties surrounding maintaining hope. We attempt to discuss hope in the context of recovery from three different situations; Depression, Anorexia Nervosa, and Schizophrenia, and therefore we consider what recovery means in each of these situations and hence the role of hope in each of them. The journey of recovery is an on-going, personal process, which aims to allow a person to have a satisfying life despite the limitations posed by their condition. Several factors are important in permitting it, ranging from learning how to manage one's condition, to improving self- esteem. However, the central tenet in recovery is hope- it is the catalyst for change, and the enabler of the other factors involved in recovery to take charge. Whilst problems exist in helping an individual believe in it, there exist definite routes by which it can be done, such as education and reducing stigma. Ultimately, hope is just as important in recovery from mental illness as in physical illness because hope matters in any situation - the only difference is that in mental illness, the end point is much harder to rationalize in the patient's mind because it requires an awareness that one's mental state is not fixed, the truth being that mental illnesses are not part of one's nature, but are states of mind which can be changed in many instances. Therefore, we must work even harder to ensure this belief is instilled in those suffering from mental illness because hope offers the means by which a better future can be perceived; and therefore, achieved.

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa* / psychology
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Hope*
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Stigma*