Blog Articles

The Future is Coming Soon!



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!

It’s a WRAP!



It’s a WRAP!


This is blog 6 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.

J describes it as “a personalized plan that you make for yourself, so we share it in a group but each individual does their own WRAP.” It focuses on what you need and what works for you rather than someone telling you, ‘This is what you need to do.’ It gave J “a lot of balance in my life. When I first did my WRAP, I did not know the difference between breaking down and crisis. It was all lumped together but now after about 10 years of WRAP, I know when things are starting rather than when they are in a crisis stage. I recommend it to anybody, because it helps you learn how to maintain yourself with your systems.”

R adds, “And stay out of the hospital, too!”  It’s preventive maintenance and like preventive maintenance you’ve got to do it on a regular basis. You can’t just do it once and then everything’s good.  M describes it “like a journey you’re going on and you take that journey and you have choice. If you make that choice to do recovery and believe in it and believe in yourself, you can be anything and do anything you want.”

An important part of a WRAP program is the requirement that you be willing to ask for help or allow others help you. One of the biggest issues in working with mental health challenges is the idea of having to take a pill or go to a therapist, giving up control of life emotionally and psychologically.   M accepts, “The pill has to now control my emotions and allow me to be less depressed or not to have psychosis symptoms.” Part of the issue of empowerment might also mean, “I need help. I need assistance. I may need to take a medication as a part of that process of recovery.” It’s a very difficult area. In Medicine, we might wrongly call it “non-adherence” or noncompliance.

If someone is not working a strong WRAP program, a Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and not using support systems, it creates a lot of difficulty in that person’s life.

We’ll focus on this in our next blog.


Peers Tell Their Stories



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

The Five Recovery Pathways to Wellness

IMG_1026We have had a number of discussions with the great set of people from Recovery Innovations International, including M, Y, J, K and R. Vernon has been a drug and alcohol specialist and was introduced to 12 Step Programs and the principles of recovery.   Wellness is a goal that we achieve and illness is something that takes away from wellness. Quite often in mental health, it is a process of one-on-one counseling, maybe group therapy, everything very confidential. There is a lot of stigma and issues related to having an illness needing treatment and needing support. Vernon had a very refreshing experience when introduced to Recovery Innovations now Recovery Innovations International. This is an awesome team of people who have helped family members and have been a great resource in our community. They understand the processes of wellness and recovery using a holistic approach. The next few blogs will review a little about their program. What makes it powerful in the collective world of mental health treatment as well as in the lives of the recovery specialists individually?

K reveals that Recovery Innovations started in 1996 as Meta Services. Their philosophy is based on the five recovery pathways. The first one is Hope. It’s a turning point, when we realize things are getting better. For her, “that was the key of my recovery, to get some hope back in my life.” The next pathway is Choice and the courage to make a choice. As K says, “It was a choice for me to recover, not somebody else making that choice but me making the choices by myself and the more we choose, the more we recover.” The third pathway is Empowerment, reclaiming the power to think for oneself, express feelings and opinions, succeed or fail, or to just have fun. In recovery culture, there is Value. Finally, Spirituality is finding new meaning and purpose in life. As K confesses, that’s what I needed to do with my life and that’s why I’m part of people that serve people with mental health challenges.”

The system and the culture of recovery allow a chance of fulfilling goals for each person and then that helps the person give back to that community.

Choice, hope and empowerment are the kinds of things that make it worthwhile to get up in the morning and go to work. In the next segment, we’ll review how some of this happens in the recovery culture.