Voices for recovery: National recovery month focuses on recovery from mental health issues, substance use disorders
Editor’s note: In observance of September as National Recovery Month, the Craig Press will publish a four-part wellness series focusing on mental,l emotional, and behavioral health. Following is the first article in the series.
Across a lifetime, one in two people experience a mental disorder that affects his or her thinking, emotions, or behavior and impacts the ability to work or go to school, carry out daily activities, and engage in satisfying relationships. That means, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, half our population struggles with mental health at some point in their lives, whether it be anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, substance use disorders, or a co-occurrence of these disorders.
SAMHSA recognizes September as National Recovery Month, which celebrates the successes of those in recovery from mental health problems, including substance use disorders. The Health Partnership Serving Northwest Colorado supports the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. Along with several educational events this month, this is part one of a four-part wellness series to explore a few different ways to work on your own mental, emotional, and behavioral health.
While self-help strategies should not take the place of professional help (especially in crisis situations), they can be a valuable tool for people who are already managing recovery or for those looking for new ways to find wellness in their everyday lives.
Did you know that loneliness poses as great a health risk as smoking cigarettes or obesity? Social isolation can be detrimental to your physical health, leading to shortened lifespan, and it can also put you at greater risk for mental health problems. Listed below are some ways to get involved in your community, meet new people, and explore new interests.
Show love for others by volunteering
While it’s a great way to earn good citizen points, volunteering is also one of the most powerful self-help strategies around. Initially, some volunteers fear the added obligation will make them feel more stressed, but research shows that finding the right place to volunteer has the opposite effect: lowering anxiety and depression, providing a sense of purpose, and supporting a sense of optimism. Following are four Moffat County organizations that are always glad to have more volunteers:
• Horizons Specialized Services: Contact through horizonsnwc.org or call Jes McMillan at 970-824-7804.
• Moffat County United Way: unitedwaymoffat.org.
• Community Kitchen at St. Michael’s: Call Robin at 970-824-3252.
• Humane Society of Moffat of Moffat County: humanesocietyofmoffatcounty.org.
Make laughter a daily habit
Laughter is so simple and yet so easy to forget to add into your daily routine. Research has proven the powerful effect of laughter on your mood, energy, mental focus, creativity, and ability to problem solve. Even better, laughter can be a great way to form new friendships and nurture old ones. Get yourself on a daily cat video routine. Download an app that tells you jokes. Or go vintage and read some comics.
Connect groups or a sports league
As we grow older, work and chores tend to take up more of our time, and we often forget the incredible value of exploring hobbies and the simple joy of play. Join a book club. Discover geocaching with a friend. Become the town cribbage champion. Just go play. Following are a couple of places to look.
• City of Craig Parks & Recreation: ci.craig.co.us/departments/parks_recreation.
• CNCC community classes: cncc.edu/ce-c.
There are many paths to wellness and recovery. Stay tuned over the next three weeks to learn about feeding your body for your mental health, exercise, and the power of a good night’s sleep.
To celebrate September as Recovery Month, view our full calendar of events at ncchealthpartnership.org/news/calendar.
Sarah Valentino is Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership’s regional behavioral health educator.