Illness Management & Recovery (IMR)
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.
Goals of IMR

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.

IMR Curriculum

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
Best and Promising Practice Fact Sheet: Illness Management and Recovery (IMR)

This course is an introduction to the Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) program as an evidence-based practice which helps individuals develop tools to manage their mental health conditions, set meaningful goals and make progress towards their personal recovery.

In this course, students will explore the relationship between illness management and recovery, and identify the core values and components of IMR that make this program unique. Students will become familiar with the educational content of IMR and examine goal setting strategies that are useful in helping participants set and achieve individualized recovery goals. Motivational, educational and cognitive behavioral strategies that IMR facilitators use to run an effective group are discussed.