September is National Recovery Month. It is a designated time to recognize those living in recovery from mental health conditions and substance abuse and to emphasize that treatment is effective in helping to overcome these often very painful experiences.
Since 1989, September has been named National Recovery Month, and up until last year, a different theme defined the month. Last year’s theme was “Every Person. Every Family. Every Community.” However, it has since been decided to keep this theme going forward for years to come, as it is an inspiring message that encourages everyone to take a stand in supporting recovery because everyone has a place.
At the individual level, there are many things you can do to support the recovery community. One key way is to take time to learn more about mental health conditions and substance use disorder (SUD).
Some reputable sources on mental health include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The latter two organizations are divisions of the government that fall under the National Institutes of Health, and they serve the purpose of generating cutting-edge research on these topics to drive innovation in developing treatments, understanding the root causes, and implementing prevention and early intervention strategies. The former two organizations are primarily advocacy and education groups that work at the local, state, and federal levels to push for change in legislation while providing support and education to those impacted by mental health and SUDs.
The websites for these organizations have a plethora of resources, from full research reports to pamphlets and infographics. Learning about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of various mental health conditions can help dispel some misconceptions you may have picked up due to stigma, which is a negative view of individuals living with certain conditions that are often widespread, even to the point of being a societal norm.
For example, if you hold the belief that people with depression are lazy or those with substance use disorder are choosing to live a certain lifestyle, you might have been affected by stigma. This doesn’t make you a bad person, but it is important to learn more about the topic and adjust your perspective accordingly. The best antidote to stigma is information because it is easy to make incorrect assumptions about people and things we don’t know enough about. These organizations often have a strong emphasis on eradicating stigma.
Beyond just educating yourself about mental health conditions and substance abuse, you can take a more active role in advocating for those in recovery. Many advocacy organizations operate at the local level, and it is easy to get involved. You can usually choose to participate in the causes you care about. You might work organization events, pass out pamphlets and flyers, volunteer for a helpline, lobby for mental health legislation, or campaign for a political candidate who has planned policies to improve mental health services.
If you personally live with a mental health condition or SUD and are in recovery, you have the opportunity to share your voice. Many organizations have public speaking roles for those with first-hand experience where you can speak about your experiences at schools. Additionally, you can share your voice through a blog or podcast. Sometimes, part of healing is sharing your story with others and giving people hope and encouragement.
It is up to families to look after their loved ones, especially children and young adults, who are at risk of developing a mental health condition. Learning about these conditions and prevention strategies can help set the youth in your family up for success. If you do notice early warning signs, seeking early intervention services through your child’s pediatrician or your family’s primary care provider can improve outcomes.
If one person in the family is in treatment, it is beneficial for everyone to be involved. Attending family therapy can offer new insights and help you repair any bonds that have been strained while recognizing unhealthy patterns of communication and behavior. Caregiver and family support groups are an excellent option for those adjusting to the reality of a loved one having a mental health diagnosis.
Treatment centers are vital aspects of the community, as they serve as the bridge from acute mental health conditions to recovery and wellness. Due to this critical position, treatment centers have a responsibility to engage with the community they serve. Hosting education events at schools, colleges, and workplaces can not only disseminate information about your services but also spread awareness about mental health conditions more broadly. Sharing alumni testimonials and data about your treatment process can eliminate some of the apprehension people have about seeking treatment while inspiring hope for those who need it.
Being in recovery is a tremendous achievement for people living with mental health and substance use disorders, and it deserves to be celebrated. Just because you can’t see or fully understand what someone is going through, it does not make their experience any less real, and that is why National Recovery Month is recognized annually to celebrate those who are often forgotten or misunderstood. Choosing to seek treatment is a big step that is often accompanied by fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and your treatment center extends a lifeline that offers a chance at opportunities they could never have imagined. Lightning Step Technologies was founded by behavioral healthcare industry leaders, and we understand the hard work you and your staff are doing to mitigate the nation’s mental health crisis. Our All-In-One solution is designed to help you do what you do best. To learn more about our All-In-One system, schedule a demo today.