Department of Mental Health Recognizes National Recovery Month
(Jackson, Miss.) – The Department of Mental Health is joining thousands of others across the country in recognizing September as National Recovery Month, a reminder that people can and do recover from mental illness.
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) has embraced the concept of recovery through its programs and services statewide as it transitions to a person-centered and recovery-oriented system of care. As mental health professionals and individuals in recovery throughout the nation celebrate this month’s recognition, DMH urges everyone to remember that though mental illness may affect an estimated one in five people, they can recover to lead healthy, productive and happy lives.
“Though seldom talked about as openly as many other physical health issues, mental illnesses are common and, more importantly, they are treatable,” said DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula. “Often, individuals who experience a mental and/or substance use disorder feel isolated and alone. Yet, every year thousands of Mississippians experience these conditions.
“It’s imperative that we offer support to people facing mental and/or substance use disorders. In fact, we need to create environments and relationships that promote acceptance. Support from peers is essential to recovery, so it’s important that people in the community get involved by starting conversations about prevention, treatment, and recovery.”
Over the past several years, the public mental health system in Mississippi has been in transition to a person-centered and recovery-oriented system of care, taking into account a holistic view of the lives of the individuals in need of mental health services. Services are designed not just to reduce symptoms an individual may be experiencing, but to examine the factors in their lives that contribute to symptoms and provide them with the supports and resources they need to stay in long-term recovery.
One valuable resource has been the development of a network of Certified Peer Support Specialists, individuals or family members of individuals who are living with mental illness who provide mutual support groups and peer-run services in addition to the traditional mental health services. First supported through DMH, in June 2015 the network was incorporated with the state as the Association of Mississippi Peer Support Specialists and is now a peer-led organization. Their vision is to be a source of inspiration, empowerment, and encouragement to peer supporters of all mental health conditions throughout the state.
The message of recovery is essential to promote. The first behavioral health symptoms usually precede a mental illness or substance use disorder by up to four years, providing an opportunity for intervention that can be effective. Identifying when someone has a problem and connecting that person to treatment resources as soon as possible can make a lasting difference in someone’s life. Family supports also play a significant role in treating or preventing mental health or substance use issues.
For peer supporters, studies have shown that helping others helps improve one’s own chances at long-term recovery. Sharing personal experiences also brings additional hope to other peers in recovery. Mississippi’s peer supporters have been sharing their stories of recovery in printed and in video testimonials. They can be viewed on the DMH web site on the Recovery page www.dmh.ms.gov/think-recovery/.
DMH is supporting a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of Mississippians with mental illness, substance use problems and intellectual or developmental disabilities one person at a time.