Oct 22, 2012

Mental Health and Social Innovation in the UK

Every once in a while I spot someone who is as interested as I am in building social capacity around people with mental illness. Here's a very cool podcast featuring an interview with Mark Brown, mental health campaigner and editor of "One in Four" magazine. *The video camera ran out of tape during this recording, hence the still-frame from 36.24 to 47.12

Oct 19, 2012

Life Beyond Recovery - Comments on Flourishing

A couple of months ago I suggested that "recovery" wasn't good enough, and that people could accomplish more than that - they can "flourish." You can read the original post here. I've had a lot of feedback about this, and thought I would present some of the comments from a LinkedIn discussion on the topic.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the normalization of mental illness and the elimination of stigma are possible only if we stress people's potential instead of their sickness. What do you tell an adolescent about their prospects in life -- that they will always be diseased? That they have a limited sort of hope for recovery?

Everyone wants to flourish, and I think that people can get there once they gain control of their lives.


Recovery is great but flourish sounds healthy, happy, challenged, and where we all want to be. It normalizes and contributes to one feeling as a working part of a whole.
While constantly trying to improve ("recover"), I flourish. I am now capable of being passionate about life, people, and my career.
I love the idea. I think a challenge is the issue of funding sources that want and push for "recovery" or "cure" because we still push the medical model in the diagnosis and treatment of Mental illness. It could be a pardigm shift for the field.
The term recovery has only positive connections to living life well in my humble opinion. Fortunately, I have a great psychiatrist and my experiences were mostly positive in my recovery. Giving the medical model its due in no way precludes the idea that people can flourish. 
People with mental illnesses have been flourishing for years now. Only most of us live in hiding because of the stigma. 
Flourishing is what you do when you choose recovery. Years ago Martin Seligman wrote a book titled Flourish about this concept. It expounds further along in his concept of Authentic Happiness and well being. 
The word we need to toss out is "mental illness." I too take an assets model approach to life. Focusing on wellness is the most productive use of our time. I always equated recovery with wellness.
I can only offer what I've learned through my son's experience. 'Recovery' itself is misleading to us as schizophrenia is not like the common cold where he could recover or get over it. I like the use of Flourish but I feel it is only in the later stages of managing the illness' symptoms that this can actually be realized. There must be something between intervention, treatment, management of symptoms, and then flourish. That is the goal, to flourish. That is also the process.
As a Certified Peer Support Specialist & self-disclosing prior client of the facility in which I work, I have to say that working with my groups is the most hopeful thing I have ever experienced in the mental health world... where one did not have the option to truly "be themselves", they now can participate in a supportive group of "like minds" in a recovery-oriented, (or for some, symptom management - thus, flourishing-oriented),environment that is "on their level".

Oct 3, 2012

Defying Mental Illness 2013 Edition Now Available

Andrea Schroer and I are pleased to announce the 2013 Edition of Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support.

This is a major update. We reorganized the material so it is even easier to read -- and added new material on eating disorders, family support, suicide prevention, anti-stigma programs, and violence prevention, plus we updated our sections on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

More importantly, we responded to reader suggestions and included new material that helps churches and community groups do outreach to people with mental illness. We have included a simple script that anyone can use to provide support and screen for trouble. It's just four questions. We think that simple scripts and some very basic training can accomplish for mental illness recovery what AA accomplished for sober recovery. Anyone can use our book to help a friend stay safe and engaged in a recovery process.

Defying Mental Illness is the only book of its kind. It is a one-volume quick reference, plus a resource guide, plus a guidebook to recovery. It works as a basic textbook. Most importantly, Defying Mental Illness is truly strength-based, focused on recovery, and designed to keep families working together to support each other.

The new edition is currently migrating through our distribution channels. It will be available on all e-book platforms and through Amazon, and distributed to libraries and institutions through Baker and Taylor. The distribution process should be complete within about two weeks.

The following direct links work right now.

Defying Mental Illness 2013 Edition on Amazon -- print edition.

Defying Mental Illness 2013 Edition - Kindle Version on Amazon

Defying Mental Illness 2013 edition - All ebook formats on Smashwords - includes Nook, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and PDF versions.