People in Recovery
People with mental health and substance abuse conditions can recover – improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential. Dimensions of recovery include health, home, purpose and community. Parents, family and friends of recovering individuals can also be important allies in supporting their loved ones’ recovery. Hope and a sense of “agency,” confidence in the ability to take action on one’s own behalf, together with an attitude of dignity and respect from service providers, can help encourage people with behavioral health conditions to move forward on their personal recovery path. Evidence suggests that while medication and counseling may be helpful and necessary, personal commitment to and action towards health and wellness are essential for recovery from behavioral health conditions (SAMHSA, Value of Peers, 2017).
The 2003 President’s New Freedom Commission Report on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, emphasized the involvement of people with behavioral health conditions in their recovery as well as the value of self-help and peer support at all system levels. The Annapolis Coalition’s 2007 National Action Plan on Behavioral Health Workforce Development explicitly included people in recovery and their families as workforce members and partners. Individuals with lived experience who are recovering from behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) conditions have become an increasingly significant portion of the behavioral health workforce in roles such as peer specialists, recovery coaches and peer navigators in a variety of primary and behavioral health settings. Individuals with lived experience of these conditions who have been trained and certified for peer support roles can offer personalized, hopeful assistance to others who are beginning and seeking to sustain their personal recovery.
People in recovery may thus be both service users as well as service providers and workforce members. Workforce issues include recruitment, retention, compensation, advancement, supervision and career development. Employees with lived experience also experience discrimination and difficulties related to diversity and inclusion. To address these, proactive organizational leaders strive for and model an inclusive organizational culture in which recovery values are promoted and workforce members understand the importance of teamwork and partnering among staff in all disciplines at every organizational level.