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  • Writer's pictureJorge Petit

Inspiring Hope: Behavioral Health Recovery Principles

Four wooden tiles with the letters H, O, P, and E. Image by WOKANDAPIX

September is National Recovery Month and my 1st post is about the critically important need to inspire hope when we talk about behavioral health (this term encompasses all mental health and substance use conditions) recovery. The reason this is so important is that central to the recovery process is the belief that healing and improvement are possible. This is especially important now in a post-pandemic world with increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidality among our youth, continued high rates of overdose deaths, racial and ethnic health inequities, ongoing COVID concerns, and deep polarization across our nation on so many topics. As healthcare professionals, embracing hope is crucial, as we play a pivotal role in nurturing hope and helping individuals along their journey to recovery by providing encouragement, empathy, and evidence-based interventions.

My psychiatric training was in the early 90s—biology and medications were pretty much the main emphasis—concepts of recovery were hardly ever mentioned. For example, I do not recall reading about Dr. Courtney Harding’s research and data of the recovery-oriented system in Vermont that pointed to significant improvement in individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. The prevailing concept, at that time, was not overly optimistic, as far as recovery was concerned, for those that struggled with serious mental illness or substance use disorders. Once I began working in the public sector, I noticed that the traditional medical model was not working for me, nor the people served in the communities I worked in, and what was needed was a more holistic, person-centered approach. I embraced the core principles that have come to define recovery and firmly believe that holding and fostering hope is a key part of the journey we all have to engage in as part of our growth and development.

Now, let's define behavioral health is a comprehensive and holistic process encompassing the path to improved mental health and well-being for individuals facing various behavioral health challenges. It's not a fixed definition but a dynamic process. SAMHSA's Working Definition of Recovery characterizes it as a journey where individuals enhance their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive for their full potential. The key message here is that hope and the restoration of a meaningful life are achievable, shifting the focus from mere symptom relief to rebuilding self-esteem, identity, and meaningful societal roles. As recovery is highly personal, everyone with a behavioral health challenge forms their unique definition of recovery.

​SAMHSA's 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery


1. Hope

2. Person-Driven

3. Holistic

4. Many Pathways

5. Relational

6. Peer Support

7. Culture

8. Addresses Trauma

9. Respect

10. Strengths/ Responsibility

Among SAMHSA's 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery, I'd like to delve into hope—reasserting its centrality—as one of the most critical aspects of an individual's recovery journey.

  • Hope serves as a powerful motivator, propelling individuals forward even in adversity.

  • Hope acts as a psychological shield against despair and helplessness, enabling resilience in the face of setbacks.

  • Hope provides direction and purpose, moving individuals to set and pursue meaningful goals.

  • Hope fosters a positive outlook, encouraging individuals to focus on strengths and capabilities.

  • Hope drives adaptive coping strategies, such as seeking support and problem-solving.

  • Hope boosts self-efficacy, empowering individuals to take control of their recovery.

  • Hope enhances social support, leading to improved communication and emotional support.

  • Hope reduces stress and anxiety, making it easier to face challenges.

  • Hope is contagious, inspiring others and creating a ripple effect within communities.

In my 30+ years of practice and service to others, I believe that hope is one of the driving forces in the recovery process: fueling motivation, resilience, positive thinking, adaptive coping and empowering individuals to take control of their lives and work toward a better future.

Here are some of my recommendations and approaches to how we, as healthcare professionals, can be champions of hope, empowerment, and recovery in our roles.

  1. Education and Training: We must invest in continuous education and training to deepen our understanding of recovery-oriented approaches.

  2. Advocacy: Beyond our own practices, we should advocate with healthcare organizations, policymakers, and other stakeholders for the incorporation of recovery-oriented approaches at institutional and policy levels.

  3. Person-Centered Care: In our daily interactions, let us actively apply the principles of recovery-oriented care; listening to and involving people served in all aspects of the care delivery models.

  4. Reducing Stigma: Challenge and combat the stigma that surrounds behavioral health issues.

  5. Support Research: Support and engage in research that further validates and refines recovery-oriented approaches; a robust evidence- or practice-base makes adoption and implementation of these principles more rigorous.

  6. Mentorship and Collaboration: Mentor and collaborate with fellow healthcare professionals, especially those who may be new to these principles. Share your knowledge and experiences, creating a ripple effect of positive change within the healthcare community.

As a healthcare professional, inspiring hope is crucial; we can play such a pivotal role in the journey of recovery and personal growth for all those we care for. By actively embracing these principles and advocating for their widespread adoption, we can contribute to a healthcare system that not only heals but also uplifts and empowers individuals on their journey toward a better future. I strongly encourage you to explore these principles and recommendations further and consider their application in your lives, workplaces, or practices so we can all drive positive change. Let us all commit ourselves to these principles by inspiring hope we can foster a more compassionate and effective healthcare system for all.


Topic: Behavioral Health Recovery Principles



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Sep 14, 2023

I wonder if, and whether, hope is being taught as a necessary component for recovery and well-being in our medical and behavioral health educational and training settings. Hope is so fundamental for basic human survival that it may be overlooked as a critical component for healing. Best practices are insufficient unless they are infused with Hope.

-Yves Ades, Ph.D.

Jorge Petit
Jorge Petit
Sep 15, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Yves, appreciate the feedback. Agree we need to instill a sense of hope and possibility in our work but it also needs to transcend and go broader to how we engage with our our families, friends, colleagues and communities. As a parent of 2 teenagers we truly need to inspire hope in their generation and help them navigate the challenges ahead. Best wishes, Jorge


Nadjete Natchaba
Nadjete Natchaba
Sep 11, 2023

Thank you for reminding clinicians of the crucial role of hope in the treatment process. To me, hope to is th quiet superpower that makes the clinician go the extra mile and fuels persons- served bandwidth.

Jorge Petit
Jorge Petit
Sep 11, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Nadjete. Yes, inspiring, holding and fostering hope is so critical with the people we are a great example of inspiring hope in how you relate to co-workers and people served alike...

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