As a state certified Peer Support Specialist – I am an expert on recovery.
I also model recovery in my life as an example for others to follow.
Unlike clinic directors, case managers, psychiatrists and others working in the mental health care industry today – I actually help “facilitate” recovery in the lives of individuals.
This is something those previously mentioned can’t or won’t do currently. In part they have not been properly trained to value the importance of recovery in the lives of the individuals.
Nor do they have “lived experienced” dealing with symptoms of mental illness. They simply don’t understand what its like to struggle with mental illness. I don’t care how intelligent or sincere they are or how many university degrees they have they can’t do what peer support specialists do everyday.
Furthermore they operate under a totally different paradigm or mind set. One that is diametrically opposed to concepts of recovery.
One of my favorite definitions of recovery is from Dr. William Anthony who said:
“Recovery is a deeply personal unique process, changing one’s attitude, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effect of psychiatric disability.”
As peer support specialists I know full well the difference between a non recovery type environment, like a hospital or clinic and a recovery environment like Recovery Innovations Inc.
In a non recovery environment people have low or no real expectations of recovery in the lives of their patients. Nor is recovery a primary goal of such organizations.
It’s a place where compliance to the rules is valued and coercion is used to achieved that compliance in patients. Do this or else!
Its a place where human beings are managed as “cases” and medication is the primary tool used in treatment.
In a recovery based environment people are not treated as their diagnosis and they are not forced or coerced to do anything they don’t want to do.
So why is this important?
I have learned that a recovery environment is possibly the most important predictor of recovery in the lives of individuals experiencing psychiatric symptoms.
In other words if a person is in a recovery environment they are much more likely to recover and go on to lead active and productive lives in society than if they were in a non recovery environment.
As peer support specialists our job is to do everything we can to create opportunities and environments that empower individuals to recover, to succeed in accomplishing their goals and to reconnect to themselves, others and meaning and purpose in life.