Recovery from serious mental illness is not only possible, but for many people living with mental illness today, probable. The notion of recovery involves a variety of perspectives. Recovery is a holistic process that includes traditional elements of physical health, and aspects of recovery extend beyond medication. Recovery from serious mental illness also includes the idea of attaining and maintaining physical health as another cornerstone of wellness. People in recovery make important contributions to their communities. Hope for recovery should be reflected in all treatments, services, and supports. NAMI New Orleans refers to SAMHSA’s working definition of recovery.
The recovery journey is unique for each individual. There are several definitions of recovery; some grounded in medical and clinical values, some grounded in context of community and successful living. One of the most important principles of recovery is this: recovery is a process, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be honored.
For NAMI, recovery is a foundational principle. While serious mental illness impacts individuals in many challenging ways, the concept that all individuals can move towards wellness is paramount. A strengths-based approach is a cornerstone for NAMI initiatives, activities, and efforts. Many, many NAMI members living with mental illness have benefited from the various opportunities within the organization. NAMI has become a vehicle for recovery, and a pathway towards wellness.
Specific NAMI initiatives developed to help the process of recovery are:
- NAMI Peer-to-Peer: a 10-week recovery education course open to anyone experiencing a mental health challenge. The course is designed to encourage growth, healing, and recovery among participants.
- NAMI In Our Own Voice: a presentation for the general public to promote awareness of mental illness and the possibility of recovery.
- NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group: a weekly support group for people living with mental health conditions.
- Leadership development opportunities are emerging as an important mechanism to help in the recovery process. The Peer Leadership Councils are one important opportunity supported by NAMI. Experiential knowledge is a common theme in both leadership and recovery, and NAMI provides those experience.
- Peer Leadership Council: the only nationally convened representative body of persons living with mental illness. The Council serves in an advisory capacity to the NAMI National Board of Directors, and includes subcommittees on the issues of Restraint and Seclusion; Ethics; and Education, Mentoring, and Outreach.
- State-level Consumer Councils: similar in structure and purpose to the National Consumer Council; but established as advisory bodies to some state NAMI Boards of Directors.
In summary, NAMI is dedicated to improving the lives of all those affected by mental illnesses. Whether by providing support, education, advocacy, or leadership experiences, all levels of NAMI are working every day to help. Recovery is possible, and people no longer need be defined by their illness, but rather by the goals, hopes, and dreams so vital to each of us.