20 ways to a better you

 When you are recovering from a mental health condition it is easier if you take one day at time.  Sometimes you can have a difficult day yet on other days life can be easy.  Sometimes things are going to get worse before it gets better.  Below is a list of things you can do to boost your self esteem and overcome depressive thoughts. Some of the things may be challenging but others may be easy and fun.  Try to do the task and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do them. Bottom line is you tried and rest assured the sun will  shine in your corner.



Day 1: Get a notebook and start a journal.  Spend 10 minutes writing down your thoughts and feelings

Day 2: Write 10 things that you like about yourself

Day 3: Pay a compliment to 3 people

Day 4: Phone or email an old friend to connect

Day 5:  Cook a new dish

Day 6: Offer to help someone expecting nothing in return

Day 7: Forgive someone – in person, by phone, by email; if unreachable write your forgiving statement in your journal

Day 8: Compose an affirmation/mantra of 3 to 4 statements about how to maintain your mental well being

Day 9: Clean out your closet/ drawer/ cupboards:  Give away / recycle / throw 5 things that are no longer necessary or useful.

Day 10: Ask someone to have a coffee with you

Day 11: Give someone a small gift

Day12: Watch a funny movie and have a good laugh

Day 13: Learn a new song

Day 14: Write down 20 things you are grateful for

Day 15: Drink 8 glasses of water throughout the day

Day 16: Eat a vegan diet – No milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and definitely no meat!

Day 17: Listen to your favourite music

Day 18: Brisk walk outdoors for 20 minutes

Day 19: Write 5 things that you want to have or achieve

Day 20: Go on You Tube and learn yoga ( for absolute beginners )

What is mental health recovery?

What is mental health recovery?

BY:  Heryani Jamaludin


” Being back to my normal self and being able to do the things that I want to do without difficulty.” – Imah


Recovery from a mental illness is possible. Like a body that is broken the mind also wants to heal.  Just as a person’s experience of  mental illness is unique so is his recovery. For one person recovery means being able to go back to work.  For another recovery means being able to get out of bed.  How one person defines his recovery is as individual as the person who is experiencing the mental illness himself.  Recovery is not only about the reduction of signs and symptoms but more about the restoration of the self. As humans our ‘self’ is not one dimensional but a conglomeration of many aspects of what we are or do that defines us. Additionally recovery is also about building resilience to face the next challenge.

The problem with the medical model


” Before I sit down the doctor already write my prescription” –  Leng


When you see your doctor he listens to your complaints and looks for signs and symptoms. He makes a diagnosis and prescribes medication.  You are referred to another health professional for further treatment. When you report a reduction of signs and symptoms at the next appointment the good doctor will declare you clinically stable. He then offers you another appointment in three months for ‘maintenance’.

This linear model of care seems straightforward but in reality it is never like that. The medical model of recovery is flawed for 2 major reasons: Firstly, the journey to recovery from a mental illness is never  linear because recovery is a process.  A process is a series of steps towards a particular end. The steps may also not necessarily be a step forward but a step back. For example, it is not uncommon for a person who is in  recovery to have a relapse before he gets better.

In the UK 50% of patients do not collect their prescription or take their prescribed medication.

Secondly, mental illness affects many aspects of a person’s life by causing setbacks. These setbacks are not medical in nature and pills cannot resolve them.  A doctor whose area of expertise is in diagnosing and prescribing  does not have the skills to help the person with mental illness overcome the setbacks.  A United Nations report (2017) stated that  approaches that lean towards the medical model are no longer tenable.

The concept of recovery


The recovery model of mental illness looks at the whole person . Mental illness not only affect a person’s physical health but also other aspects of a person’s life. For example, Michael is a young man who hears voices recently. He gets confused and is afraid. Consequently Michael isolates himself and neglects his personal hygiene. Due to his long absence from work his boss sacks him. Subsequently he loses touch with friends. His family members who do not understand, ignore him. Even if medication puts his mind at ease, Michael has to relearn the skills needed to regain some normality in his life. For Michael and many more like him this is very much a personal recovery and not a clinical recovery.

Apart from restoring what mental illness has depleted, recovery is also about building upon what the person with mental illness can do to help himself and learning new skills to manage future setbacks. The focus is on ” what can you do?” Not,  “what’s wrong with you?” This concept puts the person with mental illness very much in the driver’s seat. It puts the responsibility of getting better more on the person with mental illness than on the health professional. This kind of empowerment is powerful and is a tool in itself. In conclusion, recovery is not just about cure but the emphasis is on the client and the approach is strength based.

 What is C.H.I.M.E?


The Scottish Recovery Network asserted that recovery works best when five elements are present in a person’s life. Denoted by the acronym: C.H.I.M.E. they stand for connection, hope, identity, meaning and empowerment. The clip below explains C.H.I.M.E.



The origin of the recovery model


 Dr Mary Ellen Copeland  pictured below suffered an enduring mental illness. She felt frustrated with her doctors who were trying to treat her because she did not get better.  Consequently she invented the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. This was a set of actions plans that helped her with her recovery.  Her method  was so successful that mental health organisations in both the US and the UK have adopted the model it in various forms.



The recovery model is about working collaboratively with your client and respecting his decision even though you may not agree with it . Using recovery language you  help your client identify triggers and explore coping skills to overcome his challenges. Once this is done you may want to help him set some goals to enable him to  live a fulfilling life. Recovery is also faster and more effective when assisted by someone with lived experience. Nothing is more powerful than meeting a person who has gone down that dark road and has come out to the other side.  A peer  who has the experience of a mental health challenge himself is well placed to instill hope and inspire the other person towards recovery and his goals.

How health professionals work with each other?


In the UK the Care Programme Approach is a legal process for people with an enduring mental illness .  This is a care package delivered by a multidisciplinary team. The main objective is to ensure that the client’s needs are met and that there is accountability.  The CPA is more needs led  than it is service led.

In Singapore the formality of a multidisciplinary approach that is holistic is still in its nascent stage. It’s implementation is rather patchy. For the delivery of care to be impactful and holistic the approach must be multidisciplinary where different sectors must ‘talk’ to each other. One organization must take the lead in formulating a workflow, create documentation and provide training across all sectors so that everyone is on board. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach that is full of rigour will render recovery in its true meaning of the word.



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