A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: guide for practitioners and providers

Domain 1: Promoting a culture and language of hope and optimism

Page last updated: 2013

Capability 1A: The culture and language of a recovery-oriented mental health service communicates positive expectations, promotes hope and optimism and results in a person feeling valued, important, welcome and safe.

Core principles

  • Language matters.
  • Services can make a significant contribution to and actively encourage people's recovery efforts by embedding and communicating a culture of hope, optimism, potentiality, choice and self-determination.
  • All staff can contribute to recovery outcomes by offering respectful, person-centred relationships, practices and service environments that inspire hope and optimism.


Values and attitudes

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • respect and value a person's inherent worth and importance
  • affirm a belief in a person's capacity to recover, thrive and lead a meaningful and contributing life
  • celebrate a person's recovery effort, perseverance and achievements
  • value the role of peers in creating optimistic and hopeful culture and language
  • commit to embedding positive change in language and practice


Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • understand the philosophical underpinnings of recovery and its origin in the consumer movement
  • maintain knowledge of current issues in recovery literature and research, including from broader fields like positive psychology, the human potential movement and organisational culture change
  • learn from research undertaken by people with lived experience of mental health issues Top of page

Skills and behaviours

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • encourage a culture of hope by communicating positive expectations and messages about recovery
  • encourage a culture of hope through the use of optimistic language in interactions, in forms, records, policies, correspondence and brochures
  • reorient language, systems and processes to reflect and encourage positive outcomes
  • promote implementation of trauma-informed practice principles in all interactions (Guarino et al. 2009)
  • model the use of optimistic language among staff members
  • reframe setbacks in the context of longer term recovery outcomes and positive learning opportunities
  • share research with people who experience mental health issues and their families and support people

Recovery-oriented practice

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • celebrate and promote people's recovery stories and successes
  • reflect and encourage strengths and positive outcomes rather than deficits
  • acknowledge progress and reframe setbacks using affirmative language
  • note and remind people of indicators of progress towards recovery goals
  • invite people to discuss what they want recorded about their lives and the services received
  • model positive and supporting behaviours among service staff and practitioners as an important adjunct to supporting people's recovery
  • encourage learnt optimism and positive expectations

Recovery-oriented leadership

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • model recovery-oriented behaviours and language in service planning, coordination and review processes
  • affirm the importance of creating opportunities for people to gather and share their lived experience and stories of recovery
  • celebrate achievements, growth and progress towards recovery goals and objectives
  • provide organisational support for people to advocate for themselves
  • lead and promote the commitment to active collaboration with lived experience in all aspects of service
  • initiate conversations about how to build a hopeful and optimistic organisation that communicates positive expectations. Top of page


  • Establish e-kiosks for service-wide exchange of knowledge and information about recovery concepts to ensure a critical mass of informed consumers, peers, staff and family members.
  • Support the development of peer-produced resources that share and celebrate recovery stories and make these available to people with a lived experience, their family members and friends through media such as films, booklets, film and art galleries, newspapers, social media, recovery blogs and so on.
  • Identify and support local recovery champions.
  • Promote positive health resources.

Resource materials

  • Our Consumer Place, www.ourconsumerplace.com.au/resources
  • Victorian Department of Health 2011, Framework for recovery-oriented practice, docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/0D4B06DF135B90E0CA2578E900256566/$FILE/framework-recovery-oriented-practice.pdf
  • Williams et al. 2012, 'Measures of the recovery orientation of mental health services: systematic review', Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Advanced Online publication, DOI 10.1007/s00127-012-0484-y