Blog Articles

The Future is Coming Soon!

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This is blog 10 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives. In this last blog, we’ll review some of the peers’ thoughts about the WRAP program.

Y reveals, “You have to be pretty much honest with yourself. You have to understand that ‘OK, this is what is going on with me. This is what I’m experiencing. Let me get some help for whatever it is that I’m going through.’ Some people isolate themselves. They stay home. In this program you interact with other peers who are going through the same thing you’re going through.” Y hopes that every individual who experiences some challenges can participate in a program or support group, so he or she can be on a journey to recovery also.

K agrees that finding support is really important. She hopes people find happiness in whatever they’re doing. “Their recovery is going to be different than my recovery, but we’re all moving forward every day in our own personal journey.”  M would like to see programs in the future be more focused on the wellness aspect than on the illness aspect. “Treatment can be a turning point.”

We have nationalized care for the mentally ill. We have Recovery Innovations International in many different parts of the world, but we don’t have the type of circle of friends that is available as going to 12-Steps meetings. In our community, the most important part of what makes this successful is having that sense of community to which you can belong. Down the road, there’ll be some online activities that can help expand that community and make it workable. We’ll have to see what the future holds in the future.

We are so thankful to the wonderful peers with RIAZ who shared their challenges, stresses, and hopes for the future with us.  The next series of blogs will relate to experiences of several Indian physicians in Psychiatry residency programs relating to similarities and differences between Eastern and Western philosophies. We are so different, but so similar!

Challenges for the Future

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This is blog 9 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  What are our hopes for the future when it comes to mental health challenges? How do we define wellness?  We look at redefining mental illness as a mental health challenge, an area of wellness to be regained, versus an illness to be treated. How can people get benefits from Recovery Innovations International (RI)? RI has a web page at www.recoveryinnovations.org. Recovery Innovations now is in Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Washington State, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, and England.

Part of the vision of Recovery Innovations says, “Our team envisions a future in which people have opportunities to pursue happiness, to prevent and reduce early mortality and to achieve a full life in the community with open access to a range of recovery and wellness services, supports and resources. We intentionally role model ‘I am the evidence of recovery’ by being and bringing our very best to our work.”

We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ), both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

J describes how WRAP is used as part of a support group. Everybody can share whatever it is that they are going through. “One individual may say, ‘Hey, I was experiencing that. That’s what I went through.’ It can help them also. Everybody’s comfortable sharing their experience or whatever it is that they may be experiencing that day.”  R adds, “I can share something that works for me. Maybe someone else will say, ‘Yeah, I can try that. Maybe that will work for me.’ That’s the kind of thing that happens when you do it in a group.”

It’s important for people living in a family system or relationship to share their WRAP plan and having others involved in helping them identify warning signs and triggers. M admits, “You want to have a trusted person to do that. You want to choose someone that you can trust before you share.” Y includes, “You want to have somebody who’s going to support you in a time of crisis if that happens to be the situation. I have a Mental Health Power of Attorney. If he sees signs of me having some challenges, he will let me know and we will work together on what to do about the situation rather than fight the system. At the same time, this person’s going to work with me so I get the help I really need at that particular time.”

The WRAP program is the crisis plan. For instance, what medications must be avoided? Y explains, “You have to really trust that supporter person that you’re sharing your experiences with because you want them to respect what you are saying. You have choices.”  It’s similar to a Medical Power of Attorney for a medical illness, on what a patient wants done as far as management of their care and health when they are unable to do it for themselves or talk verbally about what they need for themselves. K adds, “What hospitals to avoid, to what medications the person may be allergic, a lot of different things.” In the next blog, we’ll optimistically describe the future of wellness!

Support is Key.

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This is blog 8 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  There are substantial numbers of people who go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, not because they are alcohol abusers, but because they heard you can get support there, that you can get acceptance there, that you can get a sense of being taken for who you are, unconditionally loved.   They weren’t getting that elsewhere in their lives, and so they were going to AA meetings.

If I have a best friend who’s concerned about me, he might say “Hey, what’s going on?” If I have a mental health challenge, a supporter or support group will do the same thing, if I allow them to. That helps me to be a more successful person, whether it’s because my best friend is telling me I’m acting like a butt-head, or because I’m having warning signs that need to be addressed. You have to work with it by making lifestyle changes, by being willing to accept feedback.

We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

K describes, “I can get on the phone and call somebody and share that something’s going on with me or I’m having a rough day. There are times when I do experience a challenge, but my Wellness Recovery Action Plan helps me out with that. If we’re not feeling well, we’ll call in and say, ‘I’m not feeling well today.’ Our director will ask us, ‘What percent not feeling well, like 1 to 100?’ I’ll say, ‘Well, I’m feeling 80%.’ She’ll say, ‘Well, can you give me 100% of that 80%?’ She encourages us to still go to work, if it’s mental, if it’s not physical. We all experience challenges at times and our coworkers can help one another out. That’s one of the good things about our job.”

M further explains how it’s working together, “with the people at the hospital, the doctors, ourselves and the ones who help us then the most, our peers.   I’m one of them. They say, ‘Well, how can you do this? I didn’t know that you had a problem.’ I explain, ‘Well, I do, but I take my medicine and I do what I need to do for recovery and that’s how I make recovery work for me.’ It’s a wellness action plan.’”

Daily maintenance is an important theme that the peer counselors advocate.   This wellness action plan must be worked on a regular basis. It’s like the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. You just don’t do it to get sober; you do it to get recovery, which is a day-by-day event. Things that you do on a daily basis keep you well. That’s one of the topics in Recovery.

In the next blog, we’ll share more information about Recovery Innovations.

Peers Tell Their Stories

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We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations both as participants in the system and as peers or coaches helping others.  This is blog 3 of a series of 10 on this topic.  Here are some of their stories!

R says, “My first peer that I ever spoke with, I saw her a year later. She said that she got hope. Through recovery she got her family back home, she has her own home, and she says that she never would have been able to do it if it weren’t for other people who have experienced mental illness and were willing to share with these people and just be with them and let them know we’re there.”

Y relates, “It helped me with my recovery.   It keeps me grounded. If I’m going through some challenges, I’ll still get up and go to work in the morning.   It takes my mind off of me and I’m helping somebody else, my peers. It’ll take my problem off me for eight hours. Sometimes when I get home, I’m not even experiencing any more challenges because my job is rewarding. It’s therapeutic for me. I love my job.”

It’s very unusual for people to talk about how therapeutic their job is for them except when they come home they want to go to happy hour. Y can share with people some of the challenges she had to overcome. This reminds her of where she came from, and gives people hope. That certainly makes a job real important! “In this work, you open your heart to other people. This is not just about a therapy deal. This is about opening your heart to someone else and ‘meeting them where they’re at.’ It’s been invaluable both with inpatients and outpatients, to have something like that they can grab a hold of, a safety rope.”

M adds, “I share my story with them because once I share my story, you can see a wall come down because then they feel that they have something in common with me. I can get them to talk and be more relaxed when talking with me.” As providers, we appreciate this and recognize our limitations! We have a strong community we refer people to and we work with hand in hand to assist them to be successful.

In the next blog, we’ll summarize some of the forward strides being made in the mental health community

Power in the Group

 

 

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We have had chats with J, K, R, M and Y, peers at Recovery Innovations.  This is blog 2 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  When recovery culture happens, is it through groups, people meeting together, learning how to do things? How does it work?

They do one on one support, supporting their peers. R shares, “We embrace all cultures, because there are a lot of different ones to embrace!” Embracing a person’s culture allows him or her to feel included, not feel set aside or put off by the fact that they are there to develop a recovery for their mental health challenges. Recovery is possible for everybody, not just one culture or gender. We all have our own unique ways and bring different things to the team.

R adds, “When I come in to work each day, I come in unjudgmental to my job and treat everyone like they’re really something special, because they are. They’ve helped me in my recovery and it’s a journey to me. It’s not just recovery, it’s a journey and you can have high points and low points but you always finish out on top if you just keep that hope for yourself and others!”

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of power in the whole group, that hope together with everybody supporting each other in that process.  Y says, “They understand what we are trying to relate to them and also relating to them, that we’ve been through what they’re going through.”

R described how she felt alone in her crises and in her mental health challenges.   “But, in the recovery environment, you feel equal to everybody else there…without the stigma mental illness puts on a person.” She reveals “just having that camaraderie with people that meet me where I’m at and accepting who I am and not look at me and say, ‘Well, she’s got this diagnosis.’ Or ‘She’s got that problem.’ You know, I can be myself.”

The recovery peers feel that a part of the power of the program is that they are also working toward wellness. They don’t focus on illness or getting treatment. As part of that, everybody defines their own idea of what wellness is for them across those five pathways.

In the next segment, the counselors will share some of their experiences in the wellness program.