I’ve been taking an online course through the University of North Texas, WISE Program -Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment – http://pacs.unt.edu/wise/ UNT was the largest rehabilitation counseling program in the world until very recently… It is no longer the largest, but still has a sizeable graduate degree program.
Last night, I read a great article – ‘Strategies for Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness’ by George Nostrand.
I wanted to share with you and your readers some of what the article was about…
He describes “mental illness” in a refreshing way:
“The first step in working with someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness is to stop looking at the person as ‘mentally ill.’ Everyone struggles at some point with varying degrees of mental illness. We all feel depressed, anxious, paranoid, and angry. In addition to dealing with a host of other emotions, our thinking also becomes confused, we get lost in our thoughts, and we just plain have days when our brains doen’t want to function.”
“As a result, mental illness is normal. A person becomes mentally ill when normal thoughts and emotions go beyond a point of ‘comfortability’ and self-management. In these instances, thoughts and emotions cause extreme disruptions in people’s lives. When it comes to work, these interruptions to healthy functioning can lead to embarrassing situations, sporadic work history, and take a serious toll on people’s self-esteem.”
He also has some good things to say about the therapeutic value of work:
“Work plays a crucial role in recovering from these periods of disruption. Nothing: not medications, therapy, or any other element of treatment, can provide the wide-ranging and crucial elements of recovey that work can. It is the only way for people to regain their independence and reintegrate into their respective communities. This is why it is so important that vocationial services be provided in a way that is empowering to the individual.”
The article by George Nostrand, Strategies for Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness will be read by people around the world, through the UNT WISE online program. I find it encouraging that so many people will be reading his words about “mental illness”… Hopefully, professionals will begin to think of “mental illness” in a new light.
I have long-thought that the paradigm shift that is needed to transform the mental health system will likely come through self-directed programs and those that offer peer support. I won’t hold my breath waiting for psychiatry to promote the concept of recovery… and psychology seems to be slow out of the gate as well.
But I do think rehabilitation programs such as the one at the University of North Texas offer some hope, along with those at Boston University and Temple University.
We have a long way to go, but at least it’s a start:
Boston University – Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation – Repository of Recovery Resources: http://www.bu.edu/cpr/repository/index.html
Temple University – Collaborative on Community Reintegration (Rehabilitation and Research Center: http://tucollaborative.org/