Recovery Does Happen
There is hope for those who live with mental illness. Services are available to all, regardless of income or insurance. Support for individuals with diagnoses, their family and friends exists in our community.
Hugo Santos, Peer and Family Support Specialist for Smoky Mountain LME/MCO, offers encouragement, hope and tools to those seeking recovery. “Recovery is a journey, not a destination,” said Santos. “By learning what works, and what doesn’t, understanding how to prevent crises, and learning how to manage one’s symptoms, individuals can gain control and live full lives - not lives at the mercy of illnesses.”
Speaking from his personal experience with depression and substance abuse, Santos now utilizes his journey of accepting his situation, taking responsibility and building resiliency in offering hope to others.
The path to recovery is unique to each person, stresses Santos. “There is no one way to tackle issues, to recover, or to function daily.” The WRAP program can help individuals identify personal triggers and develop a preparedness plan to avoid crisis. “By recognizing what we need to do on a daily basis to have a good day, we can follow through each day and be prepared to not allow difficult situations escalate to crisis level. WRAP provides a framework for individuals to take control of their lives by taking better care of themselves,” said Santos.
Daymark Recovery Peer Specialist Ed Rothstein encourages those walking with mental illnesses to seek peer support. “The most important thing in recovery is to avoid loneliness,” said Rothstein. “In a group setting people can learn socialization skills, better coping strategies to deal with their symptoms, and self-advocacy tools.” Rothstein currently serves as chairperson of NCCANSO, the North Carolina Consumer Advocacy Network Support Organization (www.NCCANSO.org), and advocates for a Peer Support Center in our region.
The High Country chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, provides programs and support for individuals and families navigating the complexities of life with mental illness. Monthly meetings at the Watauga County Library on the first Monday of each month provide peer and family social dialogue, tools and support. HC President Genevieve Austin said, “We hide our mental illnesses in the shadows. Families deny the suffering and feel shame in our cultural construct that stigmatizes those living with mental illness, while mental illness is simply a human problem, and does have a human solution.” Austin invites those interested in learning more about recovery, support, and efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness to join NAMI (www.namihighcountry.org).
Sharon Carlton 2016 ©
There are several ways to connect with local services through Smoky Mountain LME/MCO:
- Call the Smoky Access to Services line (1-800-849-6127) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak to a trained specialist to arrange services and trainings or to receive crisis assistance.
- During a crisis, call the Mobile Crisis Line (1-877-492-2785) to connect with a local Mobile Crisis management Team that travels to meet people in crisis wherever they are.
- Attend a free training in your community