September is National Recovery Month, an observance of the importance of substance abuse treatment and mental health services. Organizers aim to raise awareness of the effectiveness of treatment programs in order to lessen the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
It was established in 1989 as part of another program that honored people working in the field of addiction recovery by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It eventually expanded to include people who have been successful in their recovery programs. Four years ago, it began including all aspects of behavioral health, including mental health.
Over 200 organizations from non-profits, government agencies and other groups associated with addiction and mental health treatment take part by creating initiatives that aim to reinforce positive messages about behavioral health treatment and how effective it can be in helping someone struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
Less than one percent of the 22 million people who struggle with addiction seek help, according to the SAMHSA. Organizers of National Recovery Month hope to reduce the stigma of getting help for a drug or alcohol addiction. They believe that having open conversations about how it can affect anyone helps people not feel ashamed about getting help. Addiction and mental health issues do not target one type of person or people from certain backgrounds. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, income or education.
Organizers also want to educate the public about advancements in treatment options because of new research into what causes addiction and mental health issues. They also believe in integrated treatment approaches that address the link that often occurs between mental health issues and substance abuse. When planning a treatment program, this should be factored into how it is developed. It is important that more information is available about these options so that people seeking help are successful in their recovery.
National Recovery Month also celebrates those who have sought treatment and have been successful in their recovery. People who are in recovery are encouraged to talk about their experience in order to promote the message that it is possible to overcome addiction and other struggles.
This year’s theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable! It emphasizes the importance of peer support and mentoring others. Organizers hope to start conversations about addiction and mental health issues by encouraging people who have gotten treatment or are in recovery to be active in their communities. Hearing someone else’s story makes it seem easier to get help yourself because you know you are not alone, and that you are not the only one going through a troubling time.
Treatment facilities also participate by reaching out to their communities to talk about advancements in the field. Facilities and other organizations that want to participate can download materials such as instructions for media outreach, marketing plans and fact sheets at no charge. They also have PSAs and graphics for use in print and on the web. Learn more at: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/promote
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