Department of Mental Health Recognizes Recovery Month

September 12, 2016 (Jackson, Miss.) – The Department of Mental Health is joining thousands of others across the country in recognition of National Recovery Month, acknowledged each September as a reminder that people can and do recover from mental illness.

 The Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) has promoted the concept of recovery through its programs and services statewide. As DMH has transitioned to a person-centered and recovery-oriented system of care over the past several years, it has focused on the concept of recovery – the fact that people with mental illness can recover to lead healthy, productive and happy lives just as people with physical illnesses can.

“Mental illnesses affect an estimated one in five people throughout this country, said DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula. “Despite its prevalence, it is still often not talked about as openly as many other physical health issues. We want everyone to realize that mental illnesses are treatable. Even more importantly, there are many people and organizations who are willing to provide the support and services needed to overcome those illnesses.

For the third year in a row, DMH is hosting a conference focused on trauma-informed care during National Recovery Month. Scheduled for Sept. 20-22 at the Jackson Convention Complex, “Weathering the Storm” brings together survivors, family members, and mental health service providers with a goal of building additional skills and knowledge in order to respond to the various aspects of child, adolescent, and adult trauma.

“This conference provides an exceptional learning experience on the best and effective services and supports for those who have experienced trauma and the individuals who provide care for these survivors,” said Jackie Chatmon, DMH Division of Children and Youth.

“In addition to the 6 keynote speakers, there are 35 breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to trauma.”

The breakout sessions for “Weathering the Storm” include topics such as assisting vulnerable populations after disasters, trauma-informed care in the justice system, and animal assisted therapy.

Keynote presentations will be on the subjects such as ethical considerations, intergenerational trauma, building resiliency, and attachment and addiction.

Trauma is the psychological or emotional reaction to an event or a condition in which someone’s emotional experience is overwhelming, or a person experiences a perceived threat to life, bodily integrity, or mental health. In the United States, more than 60 percent of men and more than 50 percent of women have reported exposure to at least one traumatic even in their lifetimes.

Trauma-informed care is care in which services are designed to recognize trauma, respond to it, and to promote the paths to recovery for the person in need. Trauma-informed care and the concepts of recovery and resiliency go hand-in-hand.

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 complete view of the lives of people 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.

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 at

“Talking about these illnesses does not simply help educate and inform people unfamiliar with them,” Mikula said. “For many people, an open discussion may be the first step on the road to recovery. It is important for people to know that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people do recover.”


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.