St. Clair County Community Mental Health Executive Director Deb Johnson shares about the importance of September and how the community can be involved with upcoming events.
National Recovery Month – September Community Column
By Debra B. Johnson, Executive Director, St. Clair County Community Mental Health
Every September since 1989 National Recovery Month has recognized progress made by individuals in their behavioral health and substance use disorder recovery journeys. This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.” This is a reminder that to support individuals’ recoveries we need to share resources and build networks across St. Clair County among the healthcare and educational communities, first responders and political leaders. However, it is also a reminder that it is the responsibility of each member of the community to provide an environment where people in recovery can lead healthy and rewarding lives.
St. Clair County Community Mental Health (CMH) collaborates with many other community organizations to assist individuals in their recovery. Recognizing that integrated care, the comprehensive delivery of coordinated behavioral and physical healthcare, is crucial to recovery we work with the People’s Clinic, now located in offices at our Port Huron location, to provide physical healthcare services to individuals receiving CMH behavioral services. We also coordinate care with area physicians.
Since 2008, in conjunction with the St. Clair County Court, CMH has worked to divert persons with a mental illness or a developmental disability from the criminal court system, through the St. Clair County Mental Health Court (MHC), a specialized probation program with an engagement in mental health treatment. In October, we will also begin working with the St. Clair County Court to provide clinical support to participants in the new Recovery Court, which will provide an alternative to traditional criminal court for qualifying individuals facing substance-related charges.
Our Mobile Crisis Unit, which responds to assist a person experiencing a mental health crisis, routinely works with first responders, hospitals, businesses, schools, and other medical facilities. Our Individual Placement and Support staff works with area businesses to help people with severe mental illness find and keep competitive jobs. I have the privilege to chair both the St. Clair County Community Services Coordinating Body, a coalition of public and private human service agencies in the county, and the St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council, which provides prevention education services to children and adults throughout St. Clair County. Finally, CMH sits on the Executive Oversight Committee / Task Force on Opioid and Substance Use, which works to determine what treatment programs are needed in our area.
As important as these organizational alliances are in aiding individuals in their recovery, their importance pales next to the impact everyone reading this article could have if they were to do everything in their power to help friends and family on their road to recovery. If you know someone in recovery, encourage him or her to follow all treatment recommendations. If someone you know in recovery wants to talk, listen to them. Pay attention to what they are saying. Sometimes they just need a sounding board. Above all, don’t shy away from a conversation because you are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
It is also important to always practice patience with someone in recovery. The process can be complex and lengthy and may involve relapses. Be accepting of individuals in recovery and do not place judgment. Instead, express your love and practice compassion. Remember that a person in recovery often must make their recovery their top priority. This doesn’t mean they care less for you.
This September, let National Recovery Month’s 2019 theme “Together We are Stronger” remind us how together we can help individuals with mental illness live healthy and rewarding lives.