September is National Recovery Month—a 30-day awareness month to highlight and celebrate the gains made by the thousands of people who are in recovery from substance use disorder or mental illness. The great good news is that many, many people can and will recover from the web of addiction and mental illness.
The not-so-great news is well-known: too many people still struggle with mental illness and addiction. The numbers are big: 43.6 million adults 18 and older suffer from mental illness; 20.2 million people have substance use disorder; and 7.9 million have co-existing disorders of both mental illness and substance use disorder. I warrant that these numbers may be on the low side based on the thousands of people who are yet undiagnosed with either mental illness or substance use disorder.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes recovery as “characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness that may involve setbacks.” I agree with SAMHSA’s definition of recovery—in some ways, I think it describes the journey we all embark upon in this life. Who among us does not desire continual growth and improvement? And who among us does not experience setbacks along the way?
But for people in recovery this journey to improved health and well-being can be an arduous one. The setbacks can have enormous consequences. I am in awe of those who are able to smooth the journey and to build the resilience to overcome the setbacks. I celebrate those who are living in recovery.
SAMHSA outlines four key factors that support a life in recovery. These are: health, home, purpose, and community.
At Fedcap, our mission is laser-focused: to eliminate barriers to economic well-being. To me, this area of wellness—and of recovery—is the lynchpin to improved health and well-being. You can have ups and downs in social, spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being, but without economic self-sufficiency, these other areas of our life cannot possibly thrive.
At Fedcap, our mantra is: work completes treatment. Work is also the cornerstone of recovery. It gives people purpose. It gives people meaningful activity that grounds them and anchors them in society. That work can take many forms, but feeling productive and taking action are critical components of a life well-lived.
Here are Fedcap, every piece of work we do alongside our wonderful affiliates offers a way to improve health and well-being. For example, our Aspirations program helps support adults with persistent or severe mental illness find meaning through vocational rehabilitation and foundational skills like communication, independent living skills, and job readiness preparation. Our extensive vocational rehab programs include training and job readiness in the areas of culinary arts, custodial arts, data and digital imaging, and office skills. Our internship program places individuals in supportive environments where it’s possible to practice and stretch newly learned skills. It is through these programs along with our work through Easterseals, Community Work Services, The Way to Work, Granite Pathways, Wildcat and ReServe that thousands of individual each year find their way through the obstacles that have challenged their economic well-being. Included in these thousands are many people who have faced mental illness and substance use disorders.
Just because September will soon be over doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to celebrate the victories of individuals whose lives we touch every day. It means that we will continue to work to educate employers about the strength of hiring those in recovery. It means that we will continue to offer skills and job readiness foundational training to those whom we serve. It means that we will continue to pursue direct services to those in recovery, particularly through our Safe Harbor Recovery Center in New Hampshire, under the auspices of Granite Pathways. Every day I am thinking of ways to support the brave men and women who persist in their recovery. I invite you to join me in this effort.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.