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.
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 toward 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 toward wellness.
Specific NAMI initiatives developed to help the process of recovery are:
NAMI Peer-to-Peer: A 10-week, experiential, illness management and wellness educational course taught by people in recovery, for people living with mental illness.
NAMI Connection: A support group for people living with mental illness led by people living with mental illness.
In Our Own Voice: A public awareness project built around a 60- to 90-minute presentation by two persons living with mental illness. A brief video frames the presentation around dark days, acceptance, treatment and successes, hopes and dreams.
Parents and Teachers as Allies: An in-service mental health education program for school professionals. This two-hour in-service program focuses on helping school professionals and families within the school community better understand the early warning signs of mental illnesses in children and adolescents
Ending the Silence: A 50-minute in-school presentation about mental health designed for high school students. Students learn about mental illness directly from family members and individuals living with mental illness themselves.
Leadership development opportunities are emerging as an important mechanism to help in the recovery process. Experiential knowledge is a common theme in both leadership and recovery, and NAMI provides those experiences.
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.