Acting Executive Director
July 11, 2019
I want to talk a little bit about what is happening in the world of mental health. There is clearly a movement going on that is exciting to me, having been a professional in the field since the late 70’s. It is a new perspective on understanding and meeting the needs of people dealing with mental health challenges. The concept is RECOVERY from mental illness. We did not grasp this concept for people dealing with issues like clinical depression and anxiety, bipolar or schizophrenia disorders, for example. We just thought that you “treat them” with medicine and therapy and follow them for the long term through a Med Plus or Case management program, if needed. Those services are critical for some people to help them stabilize their condition. The fact is, however, that the word recovery never appeared as a goal for someone dealing with a mental illness.
Your recovery is self-directed. You find your way to recovery through personal control, good decision-making, and independence. The choices you make are yours and yours alone.
Look at the following principles of recovery:
- Your path is based on your personal needs, likes, and experiences, If you see your recovery as an ongoing journey, you'll be able to find the best physical and mental health.
- Your recovery empowers you. You're the only person who can turn your decisions into actions.
- Your recovery includes your mental, physical, and spiritual needs. It includes your family, friends, job, and community.
- Your recovery will have ups and downs. It's not a step-by-step process. It's a long-term process where you grow and build on your successes and setbacks.
- Your recovery is based on your ability to bounce back, cope, and make use of other talents. Value yourself and build on these strengths.
- Your recovery includes support from others. Make friends and build relationships. Join groups where you can help others and find purpose for yourself.
- Your recovery lets you respect yourself. Believe in yourself and meet your goals. Accept and take pride in what you can do.
- Your recovery shows that you take responsibility for yourself. Find the courage to work toward your goals.
- Your recovery gives you hope. You can overcome your problems.
These same principles apply to mental illness just as they apply to substance abuse and medical conditions. This is also what NAMI is about. To live these principles, most people need natural support systems to help them stabilize their illness and self-manage over time. That is where groups like our Connections (peer support) and Family Support or Peer to Peer provide valuable information and intervention techniques for coping with the illness come into play. Then there is the encouragement through people sharing their personal stories about recovery. Our presentations like In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence are so well received because they that recovery is a feasible goal. Now we are on the right path to empowerment. People with mental health challenges can become self-managers of their illness and achieve the self-respect, confidence and self-efficacy talked about in the principles above.
Come join us in promoting continued recovery by becoming a NAMI SWI Member and volunteering in any number of ways. We need you to continue carrying out our mission of recovery. Call today and we would love to talk with you more.
Until Next Time,
Kris Gamm-Smith, M. A.
Acting Executive Director, NAMI SWI
Thank you to all board members, project leaders, members, and volunteers!!!