The Wellness Shack is an independent non-profit mental health center. The programs that guide the Wellness Shack are practices and guidelines that are being by other centers around the world. Some are “Evidence Based Practices”. Evidence Based Practices have been proven through scientific study by professional researchers to be successful. Other programs we use have simply been found effective through our own experience.
The environment around a person plays an important role in successful recovery. At the Wellness Shack we seek to instill an environment of Sanctuary. We feel Sanctuary is a place where people can find safety (physical and psychological safety).
At the Wellness Shack Sanctuary is:
- Protection from stigma
- Acceptance and respect from others
- Safety from abusive, aggressive, or physical threats
- People treating each other with dignity
- Freedom from the drug and alcohol culture
- Attitudes focused on hope and recovery
The International Association of Peer Supporters was founded in order to educate and oversee the development of Peer Supporters throughout the World. Wisconsin’s Association of Peer Supporters oversees Certified Peer Specialists in the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Association merged with iNAPS in 2014.
iNAPS Guidelines for Peer Supporters Best Practices
- Peer support is voluntary.
- Peer supporters are hopeful.
- Peer supporters are open minded.
- Peer supporters are empathetic.
- Peer supporters are respectful.
- Peer supporters facilitate change.
- Peer supporters are honest and direct.
- Peer support is mutual and reciprocal.
- Peer support is equally shared power.
- Peer support is focuses on strengths.
- Peer support is transparent.
- Peer support is person-driven.
Peer Support is provided in 2 ways: Informal and Formal
Informal peer support is the heart of our support services. General membership and support group participants provide support to each other on a daily basis. Support can be provided by listening to someone; ‘checking-in’ with someone; or being present for someone. Peer-led support groups provide opportunities for people to share with each other successes, challenges, ideas, and concerns. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to.
Formal peer support is provided by trained and certified Peer Specialists. Staff trained in the Wisconsin program for peer specialists are trained to assist people who are struggling with their recovery. Peer Specialists provide support counseling, and refrain from any form of psychotherapeutic counseling.
SAMHSA’s 10 Components of Recovery
In 2010 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hosted a nationwide summit of mental health professionals, providers, consumers, and families of people with mental health disorders. From that summit came a new outlook on what was effective in treating mental health disorders. One such document contains 10 components that aid mental health recovery. The components were then posted on the internet and consumers of mental health services were invited to post comments. Revisions were made based on the consumer input, and in 2012 SAMHSA published the 10 Components of Recovery:
- Self-Direction: : Consumers lead, control, exercise choice over, and determine their own path of recovery by optimizing autonomy, independence, and control of resources to achieve a self-determined life. By definition, the recovery process must be self-directed by the individual, who defines his or her own life goals and designs a unique path towards those goals.
- Individualized and Person-Centered: There are multiple pathways to recovery based on an individual’s unique strengths and resiliencies as well as his or her needs, preferences, experiences (including past trauma), and cultural background in all of its diverse representations. Individuals also identify recovery as being an ongoing journey and an end result as well as an overall paradigm for achieving wellness and optimal mental health.
- Empowerment: Consumers have the authority to choose from a range of options and to participate in all decisions—including the allocation of resources—that will affect their lives, and are educated and supported in so doing. They have the ability to join with other consumers to collectively and effectively speak for themselves about their needs, wants, desires, and aspirations. Through empowerment, an individual gains control of his or her own destiny and influences the organizational and societal structures in his or her life.
- Holistic: Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. Recovery embraces all aspects of life, including housing, employment, education, mental health and healthcare treatment and services, complementary and naturalistic services, addictions treatment, spirituality, creativity, social networks, community participation, and family supports as determined by the person. Families, providers, organizations, systems, communities, and society play crucial roles in creating and maintaining meaningful opportunities for consumer access to these supports.
- Non-Linear: Recovery is not a step-bystep process but one based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience. Recovery begins with an initial stage of awareness in which a person recognizes that positive change is possible. This awareness enables the consumer to move on to fully engage in the work of recovery.
- Strengths-Based: Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, coping abilities, and inherent worth of individuals. By building on these strengths, consumers leave stymied life roles behind and engage in new life roles (e.g., partner, caregiver, friend, student, employee). Th e process of recovery moves forward through interaction with others in supportive, trust-based relationships.
- Peer Support: Mutual support—including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills and social learning—plays an invaluable role in recovery. Consumers encourage and engage other consumers in recovery and provide each other with a sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles, and community.
- Respect: Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation of consumers —including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination and stigma—are crucial in achieving recovery. Self-acceptance and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly vital. Respect ensures the inclusion and full participation of consumers in all aspects of their lives.
- Responsibility: : Consumers have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. Taking steps towards their goals may require great courage. Consumers must strive to understand and give meaning to their experiences and identify coping strategies and healing processes to promote their own wellness.
- Hope: Recovery provides the essential and motivating message of a better future— that people can and do overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized; but can be fostered by peers, families, friends, providers, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process.
Mental health recovery not only benefits individuals with mental health disabilities by focusing on their abilities to live, work, learn, and fully participate in our society, but also enriches the texture of American community life. America reaps the benefits of the contributions individuals with mental disabilities can make, ultimately becoming a stronger and healthier Nation.
Procovery’s 12 Strategies of Healing
- Detoxify the diagnosis. Diagnoses are not always delivered a compassionate way. Hope is often not discussed. A person must learn to accept the diagnosis as a description, and not a personal identity as being broken or defective. “I am not my diagnosis. There is much more to me than a mental health disorder descriptor”
- Take practical partnering steps. Reframe the role of “being forced to…”. Compliance and choice ae often mirror images of each other. Implementing the idea of Equal Partnerships between professionals, family members, and consumers can radically change outcomes.
- Manage medications collaboratively. A medication that worked for one person may not work for another. Consumers have access to information on medications and treatments. Professionals must keep an open mind to other alternatives. Support to a holistic approach to treatment from family and friends is valuable to recovery.
- Build, and most importantly, do not extinguish hope.
- Create and support change. Development of a circle of support, people you know who can help with specific areas of your recovery will help to deter supporters’ burn-out.
- Dissolve stigma, particularly internal stigma within yourself. Become aware of what personal attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs regarding people with mental illness may be reflecting what is thought of personally regarding a personal condition or fear of mental illness.
- Use feelings as fuel, including the emotions that are consequences of chronic illness. Those feeling like “sick and tired of being sick and tired” can fuel motivation to design and work a self-care plan.
- Gather, utilize and maximize support. If we rely on one person to hear our problems or help with our challenges, that person may burn out. Find people who can help you in the different areas of your life. Learn to rely on a little help from many different people.
- Stick with Procovery during crisis and use those times to initiate “healing forward”. Everyone has good days and bad days. “Backsliding” is not failure. Why throw away the progress that has been made? Even in crisis there are new things that can be learned.
- Adopt effective self-care strategies. When we learn what our symptoms feel like, we can better sense when an episode is coming on. What can be done to lessen the symptoms? What works to help feel better, safer, healthier, and stable?
- Live intentionally through work and activities. More benefit is found in pursuing a task that fulfills an obligation, as opposed to doing nothing. Plan for things that you want to do and then do them. Waiting for things to happen diminishes self-empowerment.
- Actively retain healing through the principles of Procovery.
Emotonal Stages of Recovery
This mental health recovery tool was developed to be a companion to the “Journey of Hope” program developed by the Tennessee Alliance for Mentally Ill, and the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers’ Association. BRIDGES (Building Recovery for Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support), recognized that there is emotional trauma following a mental health crisis, and that family members resolve their emotions differently that the person who experienced the crisis. 3 events toward healing occur. Each event moves the person into a new stage. In each stage, a person is likely to experience certain emotions, and needs. As emotions and needs are reconciled, the person moves toward the next event. This process doesn’t necessarily happen in an orderly and timely manner. Patience and acceptance with self in necessary.
Event 1) CRISIS: Psychosis, Suicide Attempt, Mania, Panic Attack
Stage 1) Recuperation: A stage of dependence
Emotions: Denial, Confusion, Despair, Anger
Needs: Safe Place, Food, Lots of sleep, A caregiver, Medications (probably)
Event 2) DECISION: Time to get going”
Stage 2) Rebuilding: Rebuilding of Independence
Emotions: Grief, Self-doubt, Hope, Anxiety, Frustration, Pride
Needs: To be heard and accepted
Learning: about mental illness, people skills, work skills, money, food, clothes, good places to live
Event 3) AWAKENING: "I am somebody! I Love! I dream!"
Stage 3) Recovery/Discovery: Building Healthy interdependence
Emotions: Acceptance of self and others, confidence, anger at injustice, helpfulness to others
Needs: A dream to strive for
People who appreciate me
Intimacy: Someone to love
Meaningful work or activity
Fun and physical activity
To advocate for self and others
7 Stages of Rehabilitation
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed and wrote widely on the understanding of the stages a person goes through when grieving the death of a loved one. The 5 stages she identified have been found to be applicable to other types of loss as well. It has been found that people who acquired a disability (as opposed to being born with a disability) often go through similar stages. The principles of rehabilitation expand the grieving process to include 2 additional stages. We find these 7 stages are very applicable to mental health recovery:
- Denial: I am okay. There’s nothing wrong. I’ll snap out of it.
- Anger: Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this. Why won’t anyone listen to me?
- Bargaining: If I just do this [thing], then that [symptom] won’t happen.
- Depression: I’m a freak. I’m broken/defective. Why bother doing anything.
- Acceptance: Okay, this is how I am. This is how it’s going to be.
Additional stages that are effective toward rehabilitation
- Reassessment: I am not my diagnosis: there is more to me than a label.
- Transcendence: I have a mental illness. I manage it well enough to live fulfilled and happy.