Shift Needed from "Medical Model" to Personal Responsibility
First, individuals must stop relying on the "medical/pharmaceutical" model
to cure them. There isn't a magic pill
or super doctor/clinician who will make everything better and the emotional pain go away completely.
This paradigm shift from the "medical/pill" model to "self-responsibility"
is a difficult one, given society's need for a quick fix and the prolific amount of advertising that we see for prescription drugs.
I'm not saying that medication and therapy aren't important, I'm simply saying that those of us with a mental illness really have to do much of our own work.
Self Education on Mental Health is Needed
We must educate ourselves about our illnesses and the available treatments. It means we must read, talk to others, do research, and learn as much as we can about what works and doesn't work in treating our illness. Only then can we speak intelligently with our doctors and therapists about what we want
and need. We should view our relationship with our doctor and/or therapist as a partnership.
Mental Health Support Network
We must build a support network. Meeting and talking with other mental health consumers saves us time on the road to recovery and helps us feel less alone and isolated. We can learn much from others about systems of care,alternative treatments, and self advocacy.
While groups aren't for everyone, they can be a wonderful asset for those who don't have the natural supports of family and friends. We must look at ourselves as our own personal science projects. We need to monitor our moods, sleep patterns, and nutrition
. We need to track how we are reacting to medications
if we choose to take them.
Each of us needs to determine what works for us and what doesn't and then devise our own "wellness plan" and most importantly, stick with that plan and alter it as needed. Recovery is a life-long process.
Self Help and Therapy - Overcome Negative Thoughts and Beliefs
Part of that process is challenging our thoughts and beliefs.
When the enemy is warping our perceptions, we need to fight against the negative thoughts that are bombarding us.
This is the hardest and most honest work that we will do.
We can do some of this work with a therapist
but most of it we will do very minute of every day and on our own.
Those irrational thoughts and false beliefs need to be addressed and new, more positive message put in their place.
Self Help for Mental Health
Keep a Journal for Organizing Thoughts and Mental Health Therapy
Many individuals find that journaling helps them
to get in touch with the irrational thoughts that are triggering the symptoms of their illness.
Others find that posting positive messages on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, or near the phone are helpful reminders. Try smiling at everyone you meet or laughing just for the fun of it.
Exercise and Avoiding Isolation - Avoid "Institutionalized Helplessness"
We need to get in touch with our bodies, other people, and the earth around us. When we are depressed, we don't feel much like exercising or getting out.
Ironically, we often need to do the opposite of what we feel.
Get up and dressed.
Go for a walk.
Take a[n]...exercise class.
Call friends and family.
Go to work.
In short, get out of our heads and live fully in the moment!
We also need to get back into the mainstream of life as soon as we are able.
For a long time, people with serious and, especially, severe and persistent mental illnesses were led to believe that they could never recover and lead a "normal" life after they became ill. "Institutionalized helplessness"
was the result. Today, we know that recovery is not a pipe dream.
Conclusion - Mental Health Recovery - NAMI
There is no last point that I believe is key to the recovery process.We must believe that we have the power to change ourselves and we must let go of the past.We cannot change the past or anyone else, but we must believe in our own ability to change and grow.
Through such growth, we can recognize the enemy---mental illness and work at eradicating its outposts in our mind.
With grateful acknowledgement to NAMI-New York State, and to the Executive Director.
News. Summer/Fall 2008 No. 95 Page 14.
Column: John Coon II, associate director. * Photo is of a model and does not relate to the contents of this site
Pages Related to Mental Health Recovery
- Moral Management
: Successful non-pharmaceutical holistic treatment for mental heath in the 1800's.
Movement - Penn State University
Mental Health Treatment
- A Closer Look at Psychopharmacology
- Let the Buyer Beware! by Louis Kirby, MA
Appeal to Mental Health Professionals
for professional non-pharmaceutical treatment options and clinical studies
of mental health
NAMI - Mental Health Disorder Recovery
The Medical Model
of mental health. Psychiatric labeling
and what can be done to prevent stigma of mental illness