Resilience in Mental Health Recovery: Dealing with Setbacks

November 28, 2022 Laura A. Barton

Let’s face it: setbacks aren’t fun, and they can feel especially un-fun when they’re mental health recovery setbacks. Building resilience in mental health recovery can help with that. Resilience sounds like such a big thing, but all it means is the ability to bounce back from difficulties. 

A quick Google search will show numerous schools of thought on building resilience. Given how complicated it can be to deal with mental illnesses and mental health challenges, I say we take a simple route.

Three Rs of Resilience in Mental Health Recovery

I stumbled across the three Rs of resilience on a people management blog, but they can be shaped for building resilience in the face of mental health recovery setbacks. The three Rs are: reflect, reframe, and reach out.1

1. Reflect: Looking Back Without Judgement

When a mental health setback occurs, part of building resiliency means reflecting without judging it—or yourself. Reflect to figure out what may have triggered the setback and how you reacted to it, and recognize that what you feel is valid.

Reflection helps you plan how to cope with similar situations in the future to avoid setbacks and even leads to accepting that a setback is a part of the recovery process. Accepting that my mental health recovery may have setbacks has given me the strength not to get down when they happen.

2. Reframe: A Setback in Recovery Isn’t Failure

If you see setbacks as failures, I get it. Watch the following video for why we need to reframe that line of thinking.

3. Reach Out: Find Strength in Your Support Networks

Reaching out to a trusted person in your support network can be a great way to let someone know what you’re going through. While this could be a counselor or therapist who can offer advice, it could also just be a best friend or family member who’s able to offer emotional support with a hug, a favorite snack, or sit quietly with you.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat to Build Resilience in Mental Health Recovery

The beauty of these three Rs is that they don’t need to be completed in any particular order. Maybe sometimes you’ll want to reach out first after a setback, or maybe you’ll want to take a moment to reframe how you’re thinking about the setback to give yourself space for grace. The point of the exercise isn’t to do things in a specific order but to build resilience for mental health recovery.


  1. Reitsma, T. (2022, November 4). Build Resilience Using The 3 Rs Technique. People Managing People.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2022, November 28). Resilience in Mental Health Recovery: Dealing with Setbacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Find her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

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