Cured: Is Recovery from Mental Illness Possible?

In this gripping talk, Sarah Fay shares her experience of a full recovery from serious mental illness. She was one of those “hopeless” cases: twenty-five years in the mental health system, six different diagnoses, nearly a dozen different medications, and unable to live independently.

Her life changed with one word: Google. That’s right, Google. Her psychiatrist told her about a patient who’d fully recovered and gone on to become an executive at Google.

Recovery? No one recovers from mental illness or any psychiatric diagnosis. Anorexia, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc.—those are forever.

Turns out that’s not the case. To psychiatrists, mental health recovery is the moment when a person who’s experienced debilitating mental and emotional suffering is no longer disabled by it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

For Sarah, recovery required a complete shift in her understanding of the world, her treatment, and herself. It was incredibly difficult and full of wrong turns and setbacks, but she did it.

This talk explores the various definitions of recovery, the data on recovery, what mental health recovery looks like, and how we work toward it. It’s especially well-suited to high school, college, and university students—who are experiencing a mental health crisis and often given no hope— and women—who are the largest users of mental healthcare services in the country.

Learning points: 

-What mental health recovery looks and how it differs for each person

-Why we think psychiatric diagnoses are lifelong and the data on mental health recovery

-The difficulty in terminology—are we “cured,” recovered, well, better?

-Personal versus clinical recovery

-Concrete tools and resources for mental health recovery

-Crafting mental health narratives

-How to find support

-How to guide others—particularly children and young people—in their journeys toward recovery

-How to create work, education, and living environments that foster recovery
Find out more and watch Sarah’s speaking reel here:

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