painting by Rebecca Finch

painting by Rebecca Finch

Recently I was told a about a piece of research* that was undertaken to try and understand why some people with mental health issues “recover” and some do not. A large research group was studied over several years. All the participants received in equal measure whatever therapies their conditions required, including medication. To the researchers surprise their findings showed that the ingredient missing in those who did not “recover”, but which was present in those who did, was – HOPE!.
In my own journey of “recovery”, (I put this word in parentheses because there are various definitions of recovery in mental health) as well as in my work with clients over the years I certainly have seen HOPE as a vital ingredient in “recovery”.

painting by Carol Engles

painting by Carol Engles

What I want to stress though is that hope is not a whimsical thing that some people are born able to pluck out of the ether and some are not. Hope can be conveyed, passed on, taught, learned, absorbed etc.etc. I have worked with people who when they first came to me were despairing, hope-less, and who I had the privilege of watching, over the months, gradually blossom and find the spark of joy re-ignited in their lives.
That’s NOT me blowing my own trumpet.
What I’m saying is that hope is knowledge,
and knowledge is power.

A scholar who wishes to become proficient in a subject will surround himself with books, podcasts, videos, and attend lectures and seminars. He will spend lots of time with those also interested in his topic of study, and more importantly, he will spend time with and listen to those people who have, over many years, become wise in the subject. Then, if he is serious about becoming wise in the subject himself, he will pay attention to what they have to say and WORK HARD at practicing the advice they offer.


I believe hope works the same way.
Surround yourself with books
that are hopeful,
people that are
Watch videos
that are hopeful
(“Ted talks” is full of them – google it.)
See a hope-filled counsellor,
key worker.
And work at it –
work HARD at it.
Practice what you hear.
We live in a society that expects instant gratification, a quick fix –
The old adage still prevails.
If something is worth having
it is worth working for.

To paraphrase a terrible movie cliche –



Here’s a poem I wrote about it:-


I thought you’d be a butterfly
and try to fly away.
A thing of fragile beauty
I had to beg to stay.
I had to cling to,
tie a leash to,
slip some cash through
your front door
in an envelope
“there’s more where this comes from – don’t leave.”

Instead you were an elephant,
that was a surprise!
And I could always find you
if i looked through seeing eyes.
But some days –
fear tried to blind me,
it wasn’t always easy,
boy! I had to really
look hard
through binoculars
my vision cleared. Then I’d see you, and I’d be relieved!



and most of all



*I’m sorry but I do not have the details about this piece of research.



  1. i loved this and it is so true, – your poem was wonderful

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