It’s National Recovery Month. Will you help reduce stigma?

September is National Recovery Month, and it’s a good time to talk about mental illness and substance use disorders so we can help fight the stigma associated with them. The more comfortable people are about talking about those conditions, the more likely they will seek treatment. You can support recovery publicly by attending a celebration of recovery at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho Statehouse. Lt. Gov. Brad Little will present a proclamation and Idaho’s first Champion of Recovery will be presented with an award.

How do we know if someone is in recovery?

Recovery is an ongoing process that includes a person’s entire mental well-being, and how well they can function on a daily basis. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not guaranteed that someone will stay in recovery once they’ve achieved it. It is a life-long process that depends on many things, including robust recovery support systems. People who have a good support system are better able to maintain recovery. 

There are four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: This means making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being.
  • Home: Means having a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Means conducting meaningful daily activities, such as working at a job, volunteering at a school, taking care of family members, or doing creative work, and then having the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: Means having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

How do we help diminish stigma?

We have to be willing to talk without judgment about mental health and substance use disorders. 1 in 5 adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime. If they don’t feel comfortable asking for help, they won’t get it until they are in crisis. And then treatment is more difficult.

How do we know if someone is suffering from a mental illness or a substance use disorder? Are there general symptoms we should watch for?

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But it becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause stress and affect a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Some common signs of drug abuse include a neglect of responsibilities, legal trouble from drug use, and problems in relationships caused by drug use.

What should you do if a loved one is showing signs of mental illness or a substance use disorder?

You should have a frank, honest discussion with them about your concerns. Offer encouragement to see a doctor and support them in their treatment. Learn about their issues so you can understand what they are experiencing. Be open if and when they ask for help and encourage them to join a support group and to be social. If you or someone you know is struggling and possibly suicidal, call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Resources also are available by calling the Idaho Careline at 2-1-1.

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment from Sept. 6. Join us next week, when we’ll be talking about suicide prevention.) 

Other resources:


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