‘Recovery’ means different things to different people. It can imply that people need to ‘get back’ to how things were before in order to be ‘recovered’. However, for many young people who have experienced psychosis, this is not exactly possible, because the nature of these experiences means that someone will have changed – not as a whole person, but maybe they have learned something about themselves, or made sense of their experiences, and have made changes to their lives in order to help them live a healthier life in the future. These changes can even be a positive thing, as the young people below explain:

  • Experiencing psychosis has helped me see other people’s perspectives and relate more to others. Something clicked and now I understand about relating to people. After psychosis and anxiety happened for me, I really understood what a friend had been going through with their anxiety, not just in a ‘knowing’ way but in an emotional sense.
  • Psychosis is fundamentally terrifying, traumatic and all that stuff. But I wouldn’t be here, doing so well, and being who I am today if I hadn’t been through it. It messed me up and gave me anxiety problems but it’s meant I’ve come to a great city, with a great home and with great people. It’s given me a lot more.
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Types of Recovery

We think that helping people move towards wellbeing, and helping them to sustain this for the future, are important goals for Early Intervention in psychosis. Although the initial treatments may focus on helping someone get on top of their symptoms, and medication can play a really important part here, later interventions often focus on a broader range of things and help a person towards wellbeing in the following areas of life:



This is about reducing the amount the symptoms of psychosis interfere with someone’s life. Medication can play a really useful role here, and also learning coping strategies to manage symptoms.



This type of recovery is about connecting with activities and people that matter, such as spending time with family, making new friends and connections, getting onto a course or into work, and managing the everyday demands of life.



Personal or psychological recovery is about making sense of the experiences of psychosis. Learning about psychosis and why this developed, realising that you are not on your own in this, and being able to accept these experiences have happened but not feeling like they will hold you back in life.

We acknowledge that the recovery road and journey to wellbeing can be difficult at times, and at the time it can feel like this is an impossible task for yourself or a loved one. However, in our experience, most young people who have had experiences of psychosis will be able to move forwards in their lives, and make progress in their symptoms, social and personal recovery. Especially with the support of family/whānau, friends, the community and support staff around them.

We see many people getting fully back into life (e.g. positive family and social connections, valued activities, independent living, work or training etc) and are able to manage any ongoing symptoms they may experience or follow their wellbeing plan so that they can reduce the risk of becoming unwell again, by managing stresses and identifying early warning signs.

Some people do go on to have further episodes of psychosis, but often when people are working with Early Intervention services, they can support the person and family quickly to reduce the impact of any relapses and help them recover again. Some people may continue to have symptoms of psychosis that can interfere with aspects of life and make things more difficult for them, however people often still demonstrate improvements and progress, especially if they continue to engage in the supports on offer to them.

Despite some of the negative myths and stereotypes about mental health difficulties and psychosis that some people hold, we don’t have any reason to hold onto these in Early Intervention, and always hold hope that young people who have experienced psychosis, will be able to move through them or learn to better manage them, and move in the direction of the life they want to live.

It can be really helpful to hear from other people who have experienced psychosis, to learn more about recovery. Click here to find out more about people’s own experiences of psychosis and recovery and family experiences.

Here is one story from a family member who talks about her son’s experiences of psychosis and the importance of his friends in his social recovery. You can also hear more from Sam’s family member here.

Social recovery – a family member’s story

“When Sam first started experiencing psychosis, his busy social life was definitely affected. His mates noticed that he started acting very differently in class, but it was infrequent to start off with, so they helped him at the time, and he didn't tell any of them what was happening to him. 

As he was hearing voices constantly at one point, trying to follow conversations with his friends was virtually impossible, especially if they were in a big circle and talking all at once. So he stood there saying nothing, feeling all alone. 

As he got worse, he had to stop going to school for weeks at a time. This had an effect on his social life, but he was motivated keep in contact with his mates. Luckily, social media helped him stay connected to his mates so he didn't lose touch and become completely isolated. It took him a while to learn that he really just had to take things one day at a time. 

His mates adapted, as teenagers do, to Sam not being at school very much, and they always made a fuss when he did make it, which he loved. They also never stopped inviting him to parties etc. Sometimes he felt well enough to go, other times he went but didn't stay long. But he was always happy that he got to see his mates.

It has been 3 years since this started and he has learnt how to manage symptoms when he's out, and to recognise when he starts getting triggers that means he has to come home and recharge. 

Keeping him connected with his mates is so important to his recovery and mental health, as teenagers need that social bond that family just can't give them.” 

Top tips for Recovery and Wellbeing

Here you can find some top tips for recovery from people who have come through psychosis themselves, and from people who support them. See below for tips for families from families.

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Top tips for recovery from young people who have experienced psychosis

  • Drugs is a hard one. I would use drugs to pull me out of depression but they got me into psychosis. I realise I can’t rely on drugs and alcohol to give me happiness – it’s short-lived. It feels like it’s fixing the problem… but what goes up must come down.
  • Becoming aware of how I think, my thought patterns, and turning them around.
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Top tips for families from families

  • Seek as much help as you can possibly get. Equip yourself with as much information as you possibly can. But also allow the space for the young person to recover

  • Be open and honest and build up a good relationship with the team

  • Just grit your teeth. Go through it one day at a time, don’t expect miracles to happen

  • Give them a bit of time, patience, understanding as best we can. Understand that you can’t fix everything

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