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RTP Weekly Highlight Header - Issue No. 5, April 29, 2011

May 6, 2011 Volume 2, Issue 16
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http://www.dsgonline.com/rtp/resources.html/.

Personal Story of Recovery
When I was thinking about recovery and how it has impacted my nursing practice, I came across a definition attributed to William Anthony (1993) from the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. There is a line in that definition that really spoke to me: “It [recovery] is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness.”

Now in my 50s, I have been battling mental illness all of my adult life. There have been many limitations posed by my illness, but despite those, I have managed to carve out a successful career, enjoy a happy marriage, and raise two healthy children. It has only been recently, however, that I have considered myself in recovery.

I currently teach in an associate degree program in nursing but worked before that as a psychiatric nurse. The entire time I worked as a psychiatric nurse, I never let myself identify with “those people,” i.e., the patients. I was somehow “above” them, and as I realized much later, I held much the same stigma toward them as the general public. It was not until I came to terms with this that I really began to recover.

The turning point came during my time as a nurse educator. I have always used guest speakers as a teaching tool. People living with a particular illness make much more of an impression on students than reading a textbook. If I had diabetes, for example, I would have shared that with students because it would have put a face on an illness. I was hesitant to tell students that I have bipolar, for fear of a negative reaction from them and from my colleagues. I also had to admit to myself that I was embarrassed by having the disorder.

Around the time that I was debating whether to tell my students, I became active with The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI really helped me to see that I was someone who was contributing to society and had overcome the adversities posed by having a mental illness. My experience should be a source of pride, not shame. Armed with newfound pride, I decided that I was wrong in teaching about the evils of stigma while hiding the fact that I had a mental illness. With the support of my department chair, I made the leap. I don’t share details with students, but I simply say that I have bipolar disorder. I tell them that I am sharing this fact because I want them to see someone in recovery. The reaction from students and my colleagues has been very positive. Students have said it made them question their assumptions about mental illness. One student told another faculty member that she went back into treatment because of my disclosure.

I have also incorporated recovery into my teaching by having other guest speakers who then share their journeys of recovery. As a result, students no longer just see the negative side of having a mental illness. They see people who exemplify the definition of recovery, i.e., those who are “living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life” despite the challenges posed by mental illness.
—Sue Brammer, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Cincinnati, Raymond Walters College

FREE Wellness Brochures and Posters
The 10x10 Wellness Campaign is offering free brochures and posters for clinicians, community organizations, consumers and survivors, and peers who want to take action to extend the life expectancy of people with behavioral health challenges by 10 years in the next 10 years. The new resources are as follows:
  • “Top Three Ways to Promote Wellness” poster (SMA10—4569)
  • “Eight Dimensions of Wellness poster” (SMA10—4568)
  • Informational brochure for primary care providers that provides strategies for talking about wellness and connecting with patients' behavioral healthcare providers (SMA10—4566)
  • Motivational brochure for consumers/survivors/peers that describes how to incorporate the Eight Dimensions of Wellness into everyday life (SMA10—4567)
  • Informational brochure to raise awareness about the disparity in early mortality for people with behavioral health problems and gain "champions" for the 10x10 Wellness Campaign (SMA10—4565)
To order or download these free materials, visit http://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA10-4566 or call toll free 877.SAMHSA.7 (877.726.4727).

National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery Releases Guidelines
for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives
The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a national coalition of statewide consumer/survivor organizations and others, has released guidelines to educate people about the values-based needs of individuals with mental health challenges. The guidelines—“Enhancing the Effectiveness of Psychiatric Care and Other Services and Supports: Guidelines for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives”—were developed by a diverse group of people with the lived experience of mental health recovery from across the United States. They are available at http://www.ncmhr.org/press-releases/4.28.11.htm#guidelines.

The NCMHR ensures that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the State and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.

For more information about the National Coalition, see http://www.ncmhr.org.

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 currently practice.
The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From You, Too!
We invite you to submit personal stories that describe recovery experiences. To submit personal stories or other recovery resources, please contact Stephanie Bernstein, MSW, at 1.877.584.8535,
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
1.877.584.8535 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.