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What does recovery look like? When you fracture a bone, you get a cast to help it heal. Once the cast is off and you are able to return to normal activities, it is assumed that you are recovered from the fracture. For those living with mental illness, though, recovery is not as simple to define because each person’s journey is unique. The children and adolescents who visit our Southwest Family Resource Center are illustrating their individual stories of recovery in a colorful and visible way by creating recovery posters.
Each young person receiving services works with a rehab clinician to determine a list of achievable goals based on the child or adolescent’s unique situation. This is known as a recovery plan.
Monica McDermott is a rehab clinician at the Southwest Family Resource Center. She believes that this treatment component is empowering to her clients.
"Creating a recovery plan with them allows them the opportunity to think about what they want to work towards, and then we provide them the tools to help them do that," McDermott said.
When the client has made progress on specific goals, they are presented with the opportunity to a create a poster to illustrate their progress and recognize their accomplishment.
"I think it's really important to celebrate recovery because it definitely instills hope in the kids and also the parents. Many of the kids that we work with have a lot of stress, external stressors and internal stressors, and they have to deal with focusing on where they can improve," McDermott said.
"For the kids, they get really excited about it. They're really happy and proud especially since the majority of time they might hear a lot of criticism, so this allows them to have something to be proud of and to look forward to. Once we do one, they want to do it again for another goal, and so it motivates them to work towards another goal. "
The poster is created in two to three sessions with the rehab clinician. The client chooses the theme and their own words to describe their improvement.
"They break down exactly what made them successful. With that, they see a lot of the work that they were able to do," McDermott said. "It's not like just completing homework. It's empowering for them. It's a colorful, fun project."
The posters are displayed throughout the clinic. Clients receive two certificates of completion, one to take home with them and one to display at the clinic.
The walls of the clinic are now decorated with multiple client posters that paint a hopeful picture of recovery for all to see. After all, this is what recovery looks like.
Recovery: one word with countless possibilities. Because there is not one definition of recovery, everyone has their own meaning and their own story.
“The Agency slogan is Transforming Lives, and so, when we think of that and we think of recovery, it means to help someone progress in finding meaning in their life. They are not merely progressing towards eliminating symptoms, but to be able to live a meaningful life past the mental health challenges that they face,” said Ana Oyarvide, Recovery Manager for the Mental Health Outpatient Services Division of The Harris Center.
While the recovery journey is unique for each individual, it is a tie that binds. Those who have lived experience in recovery from mental illness, commonly referred to as peers, offer an insight that is invaluable to those who are either just starting their process or those who find it beneficial to talk to others who understand what it is like to live with a mental illness.
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"Clara* was referred to Peer Services by her SAI and she has been attending peer groups daily for the past year. She came to group to learn coping skills for her schizophrenia and to socialize with her fellow group members. When I met Clara she was having schizophrenic episodes daily and she was very depressed. Clara was also self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to manage her schizophrenic symptoms. She was very good at interviewing for and getting hired at many different companies, however had difficulty keeping a job. Clara felt very lonely and was close with her family but didn’t have many friends.
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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