Mental Health Recovery: A Journey of Healing and Transformation
What is Recovery?
While there is no one definition, many agree with this: "Mental health recovery is a journey of healing and transformation enabling a person with a mental health problem to live a meaningful life in a community of his or her choice while striving to achieve his or her full potential."
In order to support the rehabilitation and recovery of every Veteran with a mental illness, VA has identified recovery as a guiding principle for its entire mental health service delivery system.
The days of being ashamed of mental health problems are over. Military generals, still on active duty, have discussed in large public forums their struggles and their triumphs with mental health issues.
You are not alone!
Recovery for America's Veterans is a multi-faceted concept based on these ten fundamental elements and guiding principles:
- Hope: Recovery provides the essential and motivating message that people can and do overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them.
- Self-direction: Veterans lead, control, exercise choice over, and determine their own path of recovery by maximizing autonomy and independence.
- Individualized and Veteran-Centered: Any individual's pathway to recovery is based on that person's unique needs, preferences, and experiences, including past trauma and cultural background in all of its diverse representations.
- Empowerment: Veterans have the authority to exercise choices and make decisions that impact their lives and the right to be educated and supported in so doing.
- Holistic: Recovery encompasses the varied aspects of an individual's life including mind, body, spirit, and community life. It includes such factors as housing, employment, education, mental health and health care services, addictions treatment, spirituality, creativity, social networks, community participation, and family supports as determined by the person.
- Non-Linear: Recovery is not a step-by-step process but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from these experiences. Growth can occur in different areas of one's life at different times.
- Strengths-Based: Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple strengths, resiliency, coping abilities, inherent worth, and capabilities of individuals.
- Respect: In communities and systems, the elimination of discrimination and stigma is underway. Self-acceptance and regaining one's belief in one's self is vital to recovery.
- Responsibility: Veterans have personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. This involves taking steps towards one's goals that may require great courage.
- Peer Support: The invaluable role of mutual support wherein Veterans encourage other Veterans in recovery while providing a sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles and sense of community is recognized and promoted.
The last item on the list, Peer Support, is essential to Recovery. Recovery can be seen so vividly in the lives of those who are in recovery themselves. As peer support providers become part of mental health treatment teams and help deliver services, Veterans can see recovery being lived. They will be encouraged in their own recovery journeys.
Moe Armstrong, founder of Vet-to-Vet, describes Peer Support this way:
"Peer support can be better described as mutual support. This is important to understand. We are equals. We share a sense of mutuality not superiority. The idea of being equal to people and being able to learn from each other is important for mutual support. Not being competitive or superior is important.
"Trying to see what the other person has to offer and learning from them is a characteristic of mutual/peer educational support meetings."
A Veteran or their family member can start here for the big picture to see what the VA is doing to help: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov
Specific and valuable information on Recovery is here:
One of the most important ways to access VA health care is My HealtheVet, the free, online Personal Health Record that empowers Veterans to become informed partners in their health care.
With My HealtheVet, America's Veterans can access trusted, secure, and current health and benefits information as well as record, track and store important health and military history information at their convenience.
Veterans who are enrolled in a VA facility can refill their VA prescriptions and more, so register today at this web site: http://www.myhealth.va.gov/