Recovery from serious mental illness is not only possible, but for many people living with mental illness today, probable. The notion of recovery involves a variety of perspectives. Recovery is a holistic process that includes traditional elements of physical health, and aspects of recovery extend beyond medication. Recovery from serious mental illness also includes the idea of attaining and maintaining physical health as another cornerstone of wellness. People in recovery make important contributions to their communities. Hope for recovery should be reflected in all treatments, services, and supports.
The recovery journey is unique for each individual. There are several definitions of recovery; some grounded in medical and clinical values, some grounded in context of community and successful living. One of the most important principles of recovery is this: recovery is a process, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be honored.
For NAMI, recovery is a foundational principle. While serious mental illness impacts individuals in many challenging ways, the concept that all individuals can move towards wellness is paramount. A strengths-based approach is a cornerstone for NAMI initiatives, activities, and efforts. Many, many NAMI members living with mental illness have benefited from the various opportunities within the organization. NAMI has become a vehicle for recovery, and a pathway towards wellness.
Specific NAMI initiatives developed to help the process of recovery are:
The Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Course: a 10-session, experiential, illness management and wellness educational course taught by people in recovery, for people living with mental illness.
NAMI Connection Peer Recovery Support Group: a free, peer-led support group for adults living with mental illness. You will gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others, and the groups are led by NAMI-trained facilitators who’ve been there.
In Our Own Voice: a public awareness project built around a one-hour presentation by a person living with mental illness. An 11-minute video frames the presentation around dark days, acceptance, treatment and medications, and hopes and dreams.
The Provider Education Course: a 5-week course that presents a penetrating, subjective view of family and consumer experiences with serious mental illness to line staff at public agencies who work directly with people experiencing severe and persistent mental illnesses.
National Peer Leadership Council: made up of people who have the lived experience of having a mental illness, the National Peer Leadership Council is an advisory body to the Board of Directors. The Council has one voting Representative and one non-voting Alternate from each state and US territory, including the District of Columbia. The Council meets yearly at the Annual Convention to elect officers and monthly by teleconference to conduct business.
The officers all hold 2-year terms that are staggered for continuity of the Executive Committee. The Peer Leadership Council Director is elected by the Peer Leadership Council for a 3-year term on the NAMI National Board of Directors.
The purpose of the Peer Leadership Council is to advance the activities and involvement of the consumer membership of NAMI at the NAMI Affiliate, NAMI State Organization, and national levels by actively participating in advocacy issues and program development. This will be achieved by:
- Working actively to support the mission of NAMI.
- Working to preserve the respect, dignity, and human rights of mental health consumers.
- Advising the NAMI Board of Directors on the perspectives of their consumer members.
- Communicating the mission of NAMI through active participation in the nationwide consumer movement.
- Empowering and educating mental health consumers to address their issues around care, treatment, services, mutual support and consumer rights.
For more information about the Peer Leadership Council please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In summary, NAMI is dedicated to improving the lives of all those affected by mental illnesses. Whether by providing support, education, advocacy, or leadership experiences, all levels of NAMI are working every day to help. Recovery is possible, and people no longer need be defined by their illness, but rather by the goals, hopes, and dreams so vital to each of us.