Illness Management and Recovery (IMR)

Hands working together

Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) is an evidenced-based practice designed to provide mental health consumers with knowledge and skills necessary to cope with aspects of their mental illness while maintaining and achieving goals in their recovery. IMR is a curriculum in which a trained mental health practitioner or trained peer specialist uses psychoeducation, behavioral tailoring, relapse prevention training, and coping skills training to assist in symptom management and goal formulation.


The goals of IMR are:

  • Learn about mental illnesses and strategies for treatment
  • Understand the illness, including symptoms, possible course and probable long- and short-term outcomes
  • Medication education, medication adherence, and symptom management
  • Reduce relapse and re-hospitalizations by identifying early warning signs and developing a relapse prevention plan
  • Learn to create networks of social support to enhance recovery
  • Learn coping strategies for persistent symptoms


IMR practitioners use a combination of motivational, educational, and cognitive-behavioral techniques. In this program mental health consumers learn to develop recovery goals as SMART Goals. That is, ensuring goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. SMART Goals assist clients in formulating specific goals that will build upon their current strengths and implementing a plan of action for goal achievement.

The IMR program can be provided in an individual or group format. IMR curriculum completion generally takes three to six months. IMR participants are asked to do home practice/homework with families and/or other natural supporters. Upon completion, participants will learn to utilize the modules as resources to guide their recovery and also address potential challenges.


The following subjects are covered in the IMR Curriculum:

  • Recovery strategies
  • Practical facts about mental illnesses
  • Stress-Vulnerability Model and treatment strategies
  • Building social support
  • Using medication effectively
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Reducing relapses
  • Coping with stress
  • Coping with problems and persistent symptoms
  • Getting your needs met by the mental health system


Evidence of Effectiveness:

After full participation and completion of IMR, participants report:

  • Increased social connection with peers, including other IMR group members
  • Increased awareness of recovery as a personal experience
  • Increased utilization of coping skills and addressing warning signs quickly
  • Change from illness dominated identity to an identity of a person who has a mental illness
  • Improved relationships with behavioral health providers including IMR trained practitioners
  • Reduced number of psychiatric hospitalizations including reduced length of stay
  • Greater insight regarding mental illness, symptom identification, and medication management
  • Increased social functioning and participation in their communities and with natural support systems



Click here for more information regarding the IMR Curriculum including specific modules.

Click here for an overview of IMR and implementation guidance.


Role of the MHTTC

The Northeast Caribbean MHTTC is well positioned to assist systems and providers of mental health services in implementing evidence-based SE in their current settings and promoting the importance of employment in recovery for individuals with mental health conditions.

For more information or to learn more about our trainings:

Email: [email protected] or Call: 908-889-2552



Corrigan, P. W., Mueser, K. T., Bond, G. B., Drake, R. E. and Solomon, P. (2008) Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Rehabilitation: An Empirical Approach. New York, NY; The Guilford Press.

Egeland, K. M., Ruud, T., Ogden, T., Fardig, R., Lindstrom, J. C. and Heiervang, K. S. (2017) How to implement Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) in mental health service settings: Evaluation of the implementation strategy. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 11(13), 1-10. doi: 10.1186/s13033-017-0120-z

Jensen, S. B., Eplov, L. F., Gammelgaard, I., Mueser, K. T., Petersen, K. S. (2019) Participants' lived experience with the illness management and recovery (IMR) program in relation to their recovery-process. Community Mental Health Journal (e-published ahead of print, February 2019),

Pratt, C. W., Gill, K. J., Barrett, N. M., Roberts, M. M. (2014) Psychiatric Rehabilitation: Third Edition.  San Diego, CA; Elsevier.

Tan, C. H., Ishak, R. B., Lim, T. X., Marimuthusamy, P. , Kaurss, K. and Leong, J. J. (2017) Illness management and recovery program for mental health problems: Reducing symptoms and increasing social functioning. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(21-22), 3471-3485.

van Langen, Wilma J.M. et al. (2016) How the Illness Management and Recovery Program Enhanced Recovery of Persons With Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders: A Qualitative Study. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 30 (5), 552-557.