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October 20, 2011 Volume 2, Issue 39
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and PowerPoint presentations,
please visit http://www.dsgonline.com/rtp/resources.html.

Recovery in a Nutshell
by Bruce Van Dusen
I had every advantage. I came from a home where everything was provided. I was on track to achieving a successful career and life. Then something happened. I became mentally ill.

At age 10, I was getting good grades in school and developing socially. I had my own newspaper delivery business and earned money shining shoes. In the summer, I mowed grass; in winter, I was paid to shovel snow. I was on the rise.

But something else happened that year. I started having the ability to read people's minds. It seemed everyone was out to get me—people were plotting against me. I didn't notice I had changed.

For the next 20 years, I experienced many of the unfortunate things we are used to hearing about people with mental illness. I dropped out of high school. I was kicked out of my home. I managed to enlist in the U.S. Navy and by some miracle received an honorable discharge. And I managed to get my GED. But those were the only two bright spots in years filled with alcoholism, psychiatric hospitalization, medication, drug and alcohol treatment, suicide attempts, and eventually homelessness.

The worst experience was not being able to connect with people and the outside world. I felt like a stranger looking in on a world I couldn't touch. I was alone.

By 1988, I knew I was beat. I had no hope. I believed I would spend the rest of my life trying to kill the pain.

If you could see me now, you would probably never guess that I survived these struggles. Today I lead a full and exciting life. Certain experiences set me on the path to recovery and I met people who helped me find my place in the world.

In 1990, I was exposed to positive peer support. They took me in and showed me a path to success. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I fit in. I don't think I would have survived much longer without them. It was the first of several significant experiences that changed my life.

Around the same time, I was accepted into a research program for a new medication. The medicine proved to be very beneficial. It gave me the help I needed to control my schizophrenic symptoms. I began to have extended periods of time when I was clean and sober.

Peer support, good treatment, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol were my building blocks for successful living. All these things came together at a point when I wanted help, which catapulted me toward success.

After working in a consumer-run business for 2 years, I went to college. I earned an Associate of Science degree in Substance Abuse Counseling. Even though I graduated with high honors, the most exciting part was hearing my father say he was proud of me.

Soon after college, I began working at a local community mental health center as a peer counselor. I was very successful in this role, which proved to be the catalyst for my professional career. I was promoted to psychiatric case manager and later appointed as the director of clubhouse services. My years at the center were rich and rewarding. I was truly able to be an agent of change.

Four years ago, I was hired by the State of Indiana. I now work as a bureau chief in the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. One of my most important duties is to ensure consumers throughout the State have access to our division. I am the program director for our Certified Recovery Specialist training and certification program and the contract manager for our three Consumer Operated Businesses. I have access to just about everything in our division and I use it to make sure consumer and family voices are heard at the decision-making level for planning and policies.

Over the past few years, I have received local, State, and national awards for my work. I already feel fortunate to be part of this work, but it is a great honor to be recognized for my contributions. I have also been able to do things I had given up hope of doing in my lifetime. For example, I have taken several fishing trips into Northern Canada's wilderness. It is truly a privilege to see pristine nature in all its beauty.

One of my greatest loves is riding motorcycles. Being able to work full time and earn income has helped me afford this hobby. However, I might love it a bit too much. In the past 6 years, I have owned 13 motorcycles.

I have relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. I volunteer in the community. I am able to help others and have learned to let others help me.

I was once on Social Security disability insurance. I now work full time and live on the money I earn.

I was once homeless. I now live in the same house where I've been for almost 20 years. I used to beg for money to buy alcohol. Now I am clean and sober and have been this way for 16 years. My last inpatient stay at a psychiatric hospital was in 1988.

I believe that recovery is possible for everyone and I have hope for those who want it. My experiences show that even those who are struggling the most have a chance. I am very fortunate to be a part of making sure that opportunity is always available.

Bruce Van Dusen is a bureau chief in the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

Webinar: Building Behavioral Health Capacity
Through the National Health Service Corps
A Conversation You Can't Afford to Miss

October 25, 2011

3–4:30 p.m. ET

The U.S. has a major shortage of behavioral health professionals, and recent health care trends call for efforts to manage an inevitable influx of people seeking care. That’s why the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a critically important program. With benefits including loan repayment and scholarships for health care professionals, the program will help cultivate integrated primary and behavioral health service systems.

The SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions has developed a manual for providers and agencies to maximize opportunities available through NHSC's program. This Webinar will provide a history of the program, highlight resources in the manual, and explain how organizations can participate.

Target Audience
Behavioral health and primary care organizations interested in recruiting and retaining quality staff to promote integrated service delivery systems.

Webinar Objectives
  • Provide an overview of the NHSC program
  • Describe the program’s application process and how the NHSC manual can help providers implement and sustain integrated care
  • Share a real-life example of one organization's experience with the program

Kimberly Kleine, Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service, Human Resources and Services Administration
Mimi McFaul, WICHE Mental Health Program
Tamara DeHay, WICHE Mental Health Program
Teddy Foster, BJC Behavioral Health 

About the Center
The SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions, run by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is funded by SAMHSA and the Health Resources Services Administration. The Center promotes development of integrated primary and behavioral health services to better address the needs of people with mental health and substance use conditions.

Click here to sign up for the Webinar. Registration is free, but space is limited.

Publications and Reports*

Low Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Increase Suicide Risk
A study conducted by the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism linked low levels of omega-3 fatty acids to increased suicide risk. The American Psychiatric Association recommends that people with psychiatric disorders consume at least 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day. According to study director Joseph Hibbeln, the findings "add to an extensive body of research that points to a fundamental role for DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against mental health problems and suicide risks.”

Create a free Medscape account to access this article.

Will the New DSM-5 Classify Everyday Worries as Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
In April 2011, the Psychiatric Times posted a blog discussing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual's fifth edition (DSM-5), which may classify common bouts of worry as generalized anxiety disorder. The proposed changes reduce the required duration of anxiety from 6 months to just 3 months. They also decrease the number of required symptoms to 1 out of 4, fewer than DSM-IV's more selective specification, 3 out of 6.

Register to read the blog.

*Highlighted in October's RECOVEReWorks, an electronic circular produced by the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies' Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery.

Please note: The subscription information for RECOVEReWorks included in the October 13 Weekly Highlight was incorrect. To subscribe to the publication, please email Deborah Short at dshort@coalitionny.org with a request to be added to the mailing list.

Help Support National Drug Facts Week
October 31 - November 6, 2011
SAMHSA invites you to participate in the second annual National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NDFW aims to shatter myths about drugs and drug abuse and provide teens with helpful information at community events.

Get involved! Work with local teens, schools, or community groups to organize an event and raise awareness.

To help plan NDFW activities, NIDA has provided a step-by-step toolkit including a list of suggested activities. The "Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths" booklet, which answers teens' most frequently asked questions about drugs and drug abuse, is available to distribute at your event.

Register your event today.

The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From
Recovery-Oriented Practitioners!
We invite practitioners to submit personal stories that describe how they became involved in
recovery-oriented work and how it has changed the way they practice.
The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From You, Too!
We invite you to submit personal stories that describe recovery experiences. To submit stories or
other recovery resources, please contact Stephanie Bernstein, MSW, at 877.584.8535,
or email recoverytopractice@dsgonline.com.

We welcome your views, comments, suggestions, and inquiries.
For more information on this topic or any other recovery topics,
please contact the RTP Resource Center at
877.584.8535, or email recoverytopractice@dsgonline.com.

The views, opinions, and content of this Weekly Highlight are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect
the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.