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Is full recovery from serious mental illness possible?

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Presentation on theme: "Is full recovery from serious mental illness possible?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Is full recovery from serious mental illness possible?

2 Dwayne Mayes, Director of Howie T Harp Peer Advocacy and Training Center, Community Access Inc. NYC Cindy Peterson-Dana LMHC, Program Director of Sterling Community Center, MHA of Westchester Elizabeth Bloch, Family Support Specialist, MHA of Westchester Joanne Greenberg, author of many novels and short stories including I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

3 Joanne Greenberg

4 Recovery as a Possibility Thankfully, in the last years, most mental health services and recipients have come to focus on recovery as the goal of services. However, there are many definitions of recovery Today, we present a panel discussion; We, those with lived expereince, are the evidence.

5 Dr. Dan Fisher MD, PhD, someone who is both a person with lived experience of recovery and a practicing psychiatrist, notes the importance of defining what we mean when we talk about recovery from mental illness. He believes that there are two quite distinct visions of recovery. (Fisher 2011)

6 Rehabilitation View of of Recovery Anthony (1993) identifies recovery as “ a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.” This perspective defines recovery from mental illness as a rehabilitation of social and vocational functioning in spite of a lifelong mental illness with difficult symptoms, limitations and which usually requires ongoing treatment with medication. Once a person is diagnosed with a mental illness, they are ill for life.

7 Vision of Full Recovery Full recovery is defined as a life beyond services. He states, "According to this view, one is capable of recovering from the mental illness itself, not merely regaining functioning while remaining mentally ill.“ (Fisher 2011)

8 Other Definitions of Recovery Courtenay Harding defines recovery as happening when people have “no enduring symptoms, no odd behaviors, no further medication and when they are living in the community, working, and relating well to others.” (Harding et al 1987) Paris Williams describes recovery for people who have experienced psychosis as when “they have achieved relative stability in their condition in which the overall sense of suffering and limitation is the same or less than the level of that which preceded their psychosis.” (Williams 2011, p.357)

9 My Story My first experience with the mental health system was about 34 years ago… The thing that most helped me was going to live on my Aunt Wanda and Uncle Willard’s farm in Iowa… where I was put to work.

10 Stigma prevents many people who have recovered from sharing their stories and providing more evidence and inspiration that recovery happens. Trauma is often a factor. Once addressed, more serious symptoms often subside. Exercise, meditation, psychotherapy, time, peer support, self help groups and books, people who believe in you all help. I have know many people, both friends and clients who have recovered from mood disorders, addictions and psychotic experiences. Personal and Professional Experience

11 Research Findings In the Vermont studies, Harding studied the people who had the most serious symptoms and were initially hospitalized the longest. Yet, over the course of 30 years, she found that 68 % either recovered completely or significantly. Her findings indicated that rehabilitation, self-sufficiency, and community integration were the ingredients that promoted significant improvement and recovery rather than the treatment models, which espoused stabilization and maintenance, medications and entitlements. (Harding et al, 1987)

12 Paris Williams PhD states, "During much of the past century, there has been the general assumption, both in mainstream psychology and psychiatry and among the general public, that schizophrenia and other long-term psychotic disorders are degenerative and offer very little hope of full recovery. Over the past several decades, however, numerous longitudinal studies (Calabreze & Corrigan, 2005; Harrow & Jobe, 2007; Hopper, Harrison, Janca & Satorius, 2007; Siebert, 1999) as well as a plethora of first-person accounts (for example, Bassman, 2007; Beers, 1981; Dorman, 2003; Greenberg, 1964; Modrow, 2003) have brought attention to the fact that not only do some people recover from schizophrenia but that recovery is surprisingly common.

13 What Helps Someone Recover? According to Harding's (1987) research; Psychosocial Supports Hope Personal Persistence According to Williams' (2011) research; Hope Meaning A Sense of Agency Healthy Relationships

14 Barriers to Full Recovery * Stigma *Hopelessness *An unfounded belief that Full Recovery is not possible. *Lack of Role Models/Mentors/Full Disclosure that Recovery happens every day. *Lack of Resources, money, helpful services. *Fee for Service program structure that rewards chronicity.

15 Bibliography Anthony, W., (1993) Recovery from mental illness Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, 16: Fisher, D., (2011). A new vision of recovery: people can fully recover from mental illness; Ii is not a life- long process, Retrieved from Harding, C., Zubin, J., & Strauss, J. (1987). Chronicity in schizophrenia: fact, partial fact, artifact? Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 38(5) Retrieved from Harding, C. et al. (1987). The Vermont longitudinal study of persons with severe mental illness, I. Methodology, study sample, and overall status 32 years later. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144: Karon, B. P., & VanderBos, G. (1996). Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia: The Treatment of Choice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishging, Inc. Mackler, D. (2010) Healing Homes; An Alternative Swedish Model for Healing Psychosis (DVD) Retrieved from Williams, P. (2011) A Multiple Case Study Exploring Personal Paradigm Shifts Throughout the Psychotic Process, From Onset to Full Recovery. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from

16 Joanne Greenberg


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