Beware the Buzz, by Shelley Bishop


Here at the ITE/MH Campaign, we search for and review a lot of articles and information in pursuit of finding “the Evidence” of individuals, organizations, and communities that support recovery. Recently, I’ve found myself becoming sensitive to the use of “recovery” and “recovery-oriented,” terms that are very positive expressions, however, the sheer amount of times they are sometimes used without much seeming context, made me wonder if there is meaning behind them—or have they merely become buzzwords.

What’s a buzzword? Defined by Meriam Webster, it is “an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen.” The Free Dictionary defines it as “a stylish or trendy word or phrase, especially when occurring in a specialized field.” Yikes!

So, what do we, at the ITE/MH Campaign, mean by “recovery” and “recovery-oriented?” The ITE/MH Campaign points to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) working definition of recovery: A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Those individuals with the lived experience of mental illness and addiction who worked to develop the definition, also made sure to include 10 Guiding Principles, one importantly noting that “the process of recovery is highly personal and occurs via many pathways.” And further, through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

Health—Overcoming or managing disease(s) or symptoms and making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing

Home—Having a stable and safe place to live

Purpose—Engaging in meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society

Community—Enjoying relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Following the guiding principles and focusing on the four major dimensions that support a life in recovery is what the Campaign believes “recovery-oriented” is all about. It would be good practice for everyone to check in on these dimensions regularly, and consider what’s happening to help the people in our lives and communities to achieve recovery. When we do this, it puts us on solid ground in recognizing and celebrating the actions that individuals and organizations take, the Evidence of supporting the realization of health, home, purpose, and community for people on their unique recovery journey.

And beware the buzz.


Shelley Bishop is an ITE/MH Campaign consultant and founder of A Collective Journey.

2 comments on “Beware the Buzz, by Shelley Bishop


Very well illustrated!!! In my personal and professional experience with agencies and experts working and providing services in the recovery venue I have witnessed more buzz intelligence than recovery intelligence. Recovery is so much more than the way we talk and arrange program language, it is all about educating people and communities about recovery and the facilitation of authentic recovery practices including the right to choice a personally orchestrated plan to achieve the desired changes within an individually unique lifestyle of health related sectors of care, a place to call and emotional express as home, a purpose within the present culture of society to contribute as a whole person without supervision or stigma guided sympathy and the birthright to be a part of community integrated activities and to freely love and to be loved. This post is very dear to my heart and the above comment does not even scratch the surface of my expressions towards a fake baked-up presentation of recovery nationwide. Within the current infrastructure of organizational relations between government, agency and community there is much restructuring to be done in order to offer true transformative recovery. Thank you for allowing me to share.


Thank you for sharing Eddie! As noted in the post, one of the goals of the ITE/MH Campaign is to recognize and celebrate those individuals, organizations and communities that really are the Evidence of being recovery-oriented in their approach to supporting people. It is the hope of the Campaign that you and others will share stories about those you recognize as being the example in their approach, actions and attitudes, believing that as we inform others of what is truly helpful there will be inspiration for change.

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