Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I sat and watched Christmas come and go, with as much quietude and open mindedness as I could conceive. I heard not very much of a Merry Christmas coming or going as a greeting or departing note, and smiles were not as tinsel or lights upon a tree. The children where I lived were somewhat quiet and as Christmas grew closer, so the silence grew.
I was reminded that my own life had changed that I had changed for the better, new job, quaint apartment, new acquaintances, and my life was different. I was curious and looked into myself, the struggle I had with drug addiction and alcohol, the kinds of people I associated with who were no different than my old self, the late hours and on-going days spent on the streets following shadows into dismal places, and the love lost of family and once ago true friends. I saw that it was Christmas, and I saw time unfolding into the New Year and I beheld the new challenges in my life, of facing fears and letting go of the olden dreams and the fearful nightmares of failure and loneliness.
When you enter into Recovery, your world slowly changes. The hallucinations are images as fearsome as the words which painted them, yet you stand before them and eventually you diminish them as reading a book and a clear pane of glass appears. You lift yourself up from the bent over crouch of carrying such a heavy load that weighted every footstep and thought and notice the load has become lighter, you have written the words in the sky and seen what to set aside and leave behind as painful reminders in the new world you are searching, never again wanting to touch the nest of wasp in the dark sheaves hidden among the rafters.
You wonder and smile in the mirror and it’s all good, self esteem and respect have a new acquaintance, and it’s you, happy to know a gift can be priceless as believing in oneself or others who have chosen to overcome the first step of Mental Disability and continue the traveling into their sobriety not matter how long the journey.
Written by,
Donald Sammons
December 26, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009


Recovery: Choice: Freedom
In the year 2004 there was founded a “Freedom Commission on Mental Health”. Their final report was about Recovery, being the “common, recognized outcome of Mental Health Services”. There were topics and reports written on subjects of Recovery such as, Recovery in Different Cultural Aspects, the differences of Mental Health and Addictions recovery and topics pursuing the individual in Recovery, the family, community, organizations as well as providers.
It was stated during this commission that, “Mental Health Recovery is a journey of healing, a transformation for a person with a Mental Health illness to able to live a meaningful life in a community of his or her choice while striving to achieve potential.
Recovery is: Self Direction
Strengths Based
Peer Support
Self Esteem

Self management and control over one’s recovery is a part of recovery which is a part of the experience. Responsibility is a rung in Recovery of the consumer, in making decisions and maintaining attitude when making adjustments in one’s life. When it comes to submitting yourself to medication, to help gain control of the self and adhering to the principals set forth by you the consumer, the doctors and staff help gain control over the illness which interferes with your health you have made a step to becoming refined without the discord of abandon.
Recovery is not easy, it is choice which leads to freedom from the barriers of mental instability and helps gain the strength to move on into other stable realms of life, through Hope, building self-esteem and sobriety.
By Donald Sammons

Monday, December 14, 2009


I wrote about meditation and exercise. The third one I will cover today is health. That is very big with those that have mental health issues. The research says those that are mentally distressed live 25 years less than the rest of the population. We do not die earlier because of mental distress, but rather from heart disease or complications of diabetes. To top that off, how many watched channel 4 news? Dr. Dave Hnida said that certain medications like blood pressure; beta blockers, etc. cause weight gain. If you take atypical medication, you lose either way. If they do not cause weight gain other medications will. I know I have a long way to go to fight for my health. Although I have taken certain steps to eating healthier, I eat oatmeal or honey nut cheerios for breakfast to get a good percentage of my grains. I switched from white bread for lunch to all grain bread. I am going to start bringing a meal for lunch, because processed meat is not good either. I also switched from cooking with vegetable, or canola oil, to olive oil. These items are more expensive, but can you put a price on your health? I eat bananas and pears for snacks, until the other fruits such as cherries, hits the super market from Chile. I eat salads after my meal like the Japanese unless at a restaurant, then before which makes you fuller faster. I also snack on nuts with sea salt, until I find quantities without salt.
I drink mostly water or Coke Zero, which does not have the artificial sugar, or corn fructose syrup, which is a real culprit of weight gain. I would really like your tips and comments on better ways to be healthier.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Reality before Christmas
Reality in Recovery
Reality in Drug Addiction
Reality of Mental Disability
Reality of the New Year

Serendipity: the seeming gift of finding something good, it is luck, or good fortune in finding something of worth.

How do we keep our promises? How do we survive, the torn, worn and weary of mind and the diseased of body, degenerating and wanting to live. We find we have a long way to go, those of us whom have strayed and have literally destroyed our minds, others who have become punished, through war, at home, through dereliction, find seeking solace a mere impossibility.

Take the time to look into the future of those seeking recovery, the storm has begun to quiet the realm of the destitute. Where there was fear, there becomes hope through caring hands and minds. Sometimes there is laughter, sometimes defeat, yet we can rise through learning a new way to react to the outside world and strengthen ourselves by knowing our old behaviors and those of others. We can rid ourselves of our fears, by believing in someone one who believes.

Trusting is the reason we give others a chance, because we care to strip away the barriers which cause our hearts and minds to become clouded over. For with the promises others bequeath we may become failures without understanding, with trust, there is always a tomorrow.
By Donald Sammons
P.S. Check out our new Outcomes pages.

Monday, November 30, 2009


You probably read an earlier post I wrote called MY RECOVERY. Well I will go from where I am today and some of how I ended up here. My present jobs for MHCD are research assistant and I scan medical records into electronic form. I never dreamed I would be here. I am extremely happy today working for MHCD. Although I did believe I would work full time someday. It all started step by step. My first dream was to go to college and learn computer. All I learned was software. I could not go further, because I lacked math skills. I would learn it than forget it an hour after I learned it. I have not explored it further whether it was the medication at the time. Since then I have been on a new medication which I do know helps me think clearer. I also work on my memory. Well I then switched to Human Services and took up alcohol and drug counseling. I did not take mental health, because I wanted to separate the two from my own distress. For my internships I went to private practice again to separate from the two. The last place I interned for before I graduated really turned me off. I did not even want to counsel after that. I then applied and was accepted into Graduate school of Public Affaires and studied Public Administration. I had new hope that things would still work out. All I knew was I wanted a better life than the first I had before my mental distress. I graduated in 2005, and was ready to work. Read my earlier post for more on that. What I did learn is to achieve your goal or dream. You have to have perseverance, hope, and self determination. Those are also the steps to recovery. Today I have more confidence and with exercise, meditation, and self reflection. I am learning about me and how to use the skills I have. To work on the one’s I do not have. For me this second life is much better than the first. I know with the tools I have learned that what I have material and spiritual will not be taken from me this time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excerpts on Spirituality

Spirituality means different things to different people and all express their spirituality in different ways. Spirituality can help keep mental life in a working perspective which can be good and help people beyond the bad scenarios of their life.
Spirituality can mean faith or a way of understanding. A person’s belief in a higher power such as God or Christ, or nature or any power greater than one’s self is Spirituality, a hidden part of our life.
As people who require Mental Health treatment, we need a service of the Mental Health system which responds to our spiritual needs. We require a system in Recovery which lets us openly express our lives in a spiritual context. Consumers of Mental Health need help in understanding and exploring the importance of Spirituality and their associations with others with whom they share their lives.
There is a twist in such soul searching and belief in Spirituality in Mental Health and that some people may not feel well about their spiritual experiences and any beliefs these people may have might not be positive in their Recovery. Believing you can Recover is spiritual and we can all learn from one another, coupled with faith we have the beginning of a foundation which will give us understanding into Mental illness and greater support, as well as an ability to lead a healthier life.
Spirituality is knowledge, which leads our lives through expression.
By Donald Sammons

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meditation Technique

This technique is also out of the book Beyond Fear by Miguel Ruiz. This meditation is to take inventory of your feelings. “The inventory is a meditation exercise. An inventory is not an examination of conscience. There is no judge or victim. It is a review of feelings. Ways to initiate this exercise might be: to put a candle in your room and look at it while focusing on your breath; to look deeply into a mirror; to sit in a darkened room with your feet on the floor and your hand in your lap; to lie down with a blanket over you with your hands crossed over your chest; or to sit on the floor with your arms wrapped around your bent knees while leaning back against a support. These are all techniques for going into a light trance state.” Also the book says you can mediate with your eyes open or closed. “Meditation becomes a way of life. It is a prayer. It is one of the greatest methods for cleaning the mind, not the only method, but it is one of the most powerful and easiest.” This is a way to meditate and help your mental health. Miguel talks a lot in the book about breathing techniques, because that is our source of life. Do you mediate if so what techniques do you use?
By Charles

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is a blog from a Coworker of mine. My name is Donald. I am in recovery. I have been in recovery since the 1990’s, when I took my first step in denying myself the so-called pleasures that are inherent in this society. I was nothing more than a lowly drug addict, who was afraid to face reality and lived in one I didn’t want to face. I was lost.
Changing your life isn’t converting. It’s accepting the truth of reality. It’s finding peace in the wake of adversity, not throwing your life away, not hiding in never-never-land. Acceptance is part of the changing. Spring turns to summer, to fall then winter, our lives grow in this manner, we understand waking and becoming with the world and verily we accept this.
Going beyond Recovery is believing that we finally have rid ourselves of the webbings of the spider and have caused the clouds to part to accept the warming light our most real and truthful dreams, not the saddening of a winter’s day where one might be entrapped in a hall of mirrors without escape.
Mental health is not only about definition, yet what one believes.
By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Exercise and Meditation

For exercise, I ride a stationary bike that has the distance I go and how many calories I burn. I am also lucky in the fact this bike is in my building which I live. It also will check your heart rate as you are exercising. The reason I am writing about this is that I finally reached a goal in my exercising. That is to burn 100 Calories in a half hour, which is how long the bike is timed for. Also in the timing is how much distance a person goes, my distance always says 5.3. Before I would get about 5 minutes away from it being over and say I will not make it and I would not. This time I said I’m going to keep going at this speed and I made it. Now I have to set a new goal of at least 105 calories burned. I like to work out best in the mornings, after breakfast. If you do not eat before you work out, then you will be hungry after and eat more than you want. I do exercise in the evening though sometimes. Now I will switch to meditation. I recently after reading a paragraph in the book I am reading called Beyond Fear by Miguel Ruiz. I mentioned it in an earlier posting. It talked about meditation by saying it does not matter if you’re a meat eater of a vegetarian you can still meditate. I use to mediate years ago for hours till I read in another book which I forgot the name. You do not have to meditate for hours to get the same benefit in less time. It is not the quantity but the quality. I am meditating again and hopefully get the quality of it to better myself. I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Elemental Visit

We at MHCD had visitors from Elemental group located in the United Kingdom. We showed them what we do here in Research Department. Although mostly they talked to us about their training in Crazy Diamond, in which they believe people are mentally distressed, not mentally ill. Also which is on their Elemental website and also they talked about THRIVE which stand for Time-Healing-Resilience-Interdependence-Vivacity-Emancipation. We also took them to one of our clinical sites which was Clermont and let them meet and talk to clinicians and psychiatrist. It went great every loved the humor and what the Elemental group does. We can all use humor to make the day feel better, especially if you are a consumer. I would also like to point out that what Thrive and MHCD’s idea of recovery are basically the same principle. I would also like to mention from hearing them talk is that they do not follow the typical “medical model” but believe in it is your choice if you want to take medication to recover or thrive. I feel great that they feel that way. After Clermont we went to 2Succceed, where we had lunch and met with the survey team and the consumer partnership council. We also learned about 2Succeeds education and employment model. It was a great visit and very good learning day. I was glad to finally meet Marion Aslan from Elemental and Crazy Diamond trainer, Rowland Urey, who was here two years ago. Mike Smith who also is a trainer for Crazy Diamond.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Recovery Story

This is a story from a Co-worker of mine at evaluation and Research.
We all have bad days. Sometimes they last for a short while, some longer than others. Sometimes those confused states never end; the gray and dark days of accelerated hours that carry us into the distance while we are still trying to decide what is right, are real.
When these scenarios occur, we know deep inside we need someone, life has become overwhelming and we need to return to the starting point from where we took our first step.
The law speaks; those who want situations resolved that cannot be handled by citizens who “want no trouble”. You or I, who are mentally ill, are seeking peace and someone to understand with. The psychiatrist will listen and diagnose the situations that twist reality, and during this process they are hopeful that you or I will begin to recover from our lack of understanding through our emotional needs and through education. Wanting us to grow is a step beyond sitting in jail.
There are a great number of facilities which deal / help people who are suffering from mental illness. The far reaching hand of Mental Health ranges from Public Schools, universities to solicitation on the streets. There are people who want to help the down trodden; there are people who reach out and take their hand who want to believe they can be helped.
I once believed I was not mentally ill. Drugs, alcohol and endless days and nights rushing to keep a peace of mind were my only reality. That began when I was very young. It took me over 28 years to realize my mirror was clouded as I began to see that I carried a weight that would not let me exist.
I am a statistic of hope to those who want to see someone rest from their distressful life, and I am grateful for this hope in my recovery. With the guidance of others, who did not believe in incarceration, I survived with their guidance, I have not only new found friends, not only people I can trust, yet case managers and clinicians, who can help someone as myself look up to themselves and trust.
By Donald Sammons

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happiness and Recovery

Are happiness and recovery connected? I believe they are, to be recovered you cannot be sad. In that respect you would want to be happy. I read a story where a man was diagnosed with Cancer, and did not have long to live. Well he went home and put on old movies and laughed and laughed. He then went back to the Doctor and was told he was cured of Cancer. I thought about this and then I started recording 70s shows, that I thought were funny. Two of which are Good Times and All in the Family. On weekends when I'm home, I watch them and do laugh and know it is good for my health and recovery. I also learn something else by watching them, that is times really have not changed that much. There was a recession not a depression. Unemployment was high and Retirees on Social Security, if they made $25 dollars for sewing or something, for every $2 dollars they made they had to pay social security back a dollar. Does all that sound familar? How did they deal with it back then. By laughter and sayings like you'll "bounce back" or "life will get better you just have to keep on keeping on" that is like recovery you're down for a second then you bounce back. It's not forever life does get better. That is what makes me happy, to start a new week. What do you do for happiness and are recovery and happiness connected?

Monday, October 12, 2009

UK Visit

This is from my coworker at Evaluation and Research, we are expecting a visit from the UK and a few from Elemental which I have wrote about before.
My name is Donald Sammons; I live in Denver, Colorado and have been living here amongst friends for 45 years. I am currently employed at the Mental Health Center of Denver and have been working as an Evaluation and Research for 2 years. In much the same way as our associates from the UK I too am working for the better part of growing mentally and becoming a stronger person, free from drugs and the ignorance of my own acceptances.
The people of the UK are now becoming our guest in Denver, exploring MHCD, and its process' and the consumers as well as the staff here. We have much to talk abut and share as consumers, establishing what works for sobriety and what works for stabilization for individuals with mental disabilities. As a client (consumer) and employee of MHCD, I have many questions to ask our friends for the UK.
I especially want to know about their trip to Denver, and I would want them to know that we are not so lacking in our growth, our spontaneity in helping those who are downtrodden and most of all our sincerity.
The mental health system has come a long way as being a componet of health and growth. Though we use medicines, to curb the attitudes of those who may seem uncontrollable, I personally would like to know if this is the same with the European Mental Health system? How do the clients make a change from the system, to becoming self sufficient, how do they become re-educated and do they keep open channels with the people whom have helped them to overcome their illness'?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mental Health Recovery

I last wrote about these books, I have been reading and listening to on audio book. Today, I am going to write about the Mastery of Love, which I listened to on the way to work. I am also going to write about recovery and world mental health day. First an excerpt from the audio book. When you see somone down, you do not feel sorry for them, because if you feel they cannot get back up. You would not be respecting them, because you would feel they are not strong enough to pull themselves up and you may offer a hand. That would be giving them respect and love. To also know that fear in action can only bring suffering. Love in action can bring happiness. Also something you probably already know is that all actions bring about consequences. The audio book made me think about that and did you know that even if you had sixty percent fear in you and forty percent love, fear would still thrive. What most of the book is trying to say is switch from fear to love and the world will change one person at a time, and your life would get better. It is funny how each time you read or listen to a book, you read or hear something you did not before? Listening and reading my books make me feel good everyday. I want to learn and do better all the time. How are you doing let me know. Now I am going to switch gears and talk about world mental health day which is a video on YouTube I received from Elemental. The video said that world mental health day is on October 10th. Elemental is going to celebrate it for their clients on October 10th. I guess others celebrate it on October 20th. In the UK they do not mention illness. Also I misunderstood, when I read about thriving, which I wrote about in an earlier post. I thought a person had to be off their medication to be a thriver. In today's video they said you had to reduce or be off your medication. That makes me feel good, because I am at the lowest dose of Geodon. It works well for me. How does your medication work for you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recovery through spirituality

Here is another blog by a coworker at Evaluation and Research
Many people who have become diagnosed with a mental illness feel at one time or another that in their suffering they will become cured due to some greater power, neglecting the help they are receiving from their clinician or doctor, hoping they will overcome their state of illness.
I am dual diagnosed taking multiple medications and have often in the past beforehand felt and finally overcame the illusions of reaching this spiritual avenue, that would help me to overcome my illness. Being dual-diagnosed, the medications calmed the "demons", yet I heard that one statement which many have tried to follow from a clinician, as advice, "Your spiritual higher power will give you strength." Climbing out of the corner, a person whom is mentally ill must learn that the obliterated self, is strong enough to seek answers with professional help and can begin to realize they can not be forever suppressed by their fears all of this takes thought, this in turn can be seen as spiritual.
Recovery I learned is not all medicine, with diagnosis, its sharing, and facing the light within you that you want to touch of the self to conceive a declaration you are free.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fear and Thriving

I don't adhere to the typical Mental Health Model. I am a paranoid shizophrenic, so this story has a lot of meaning to me. I first heard about the Four Agreements through the 2 succeed newsletter and they also have a blog which is the link. I went and bought it and the other two by Miguel Ruiz. One of the others is called Voice of Knowledge. I also bought the Mastery of Love which I own in hard copy and on audio book. The four agreements are do your best, be impeccable with your word, especially to yourself. The third and fourth agreement is don't make assumptions and don't take it personal. When you follow these it makes life easier. I am going to write about the mastery of love, even though I like them all. I think the mastery of love book really hits home and puts it straight. It tells how a person is shy because of fear. The same way when we try to have a relationship, jealousy is fear based also. It is that most of life is rules by fear. It has helped me make it through this life a little easier. I'm learning and not as a person with a mental illness, but as a regular person. I usually forget I have a mental illness. Even when I take my medicine, I do it by routine and do not even realize why I take it. These books are a form of meditation for me. I read one in the morning, before I leave for work and listen to the other on the way to work with my mp3 player. I do also listen to music, but take turns with the books and music. I just bought a new one from anazon called Beyond Fear by Miguel Ruiz. I will let you know how that one is. What do you think.

Monday, September 14, 2009


To realize you have a mental illness is to realize you are making a change. Going beyond the dust storm in the mind and the slow shuffling gait of indecision takes acceptance and willingness to face such turmoil.
Once your mind is open to see there is a differnce between yourself and your own thoughts, you will want to make a change. The messages are no longer mixed and anyone can believe in living again. Long walks, exercise and new ideas to make real can help a person smile, instead of seeking a shroud to cover the darkness.
Being a part of Mental Health, I believe the medication I am receiving also helped me to gain not only mental release from my fears, but yet an inner strength to accept the wisdom from others who cared to help me believe in myself.
I exercised my instability by accepting the truth in what I wanted to be and what I wanted to believe, I have won nothing but faith and esteem, this is day to day.
By, Donald Sammons
Evaluation and Research

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More on Exercise and Recovery

I started exercising last December. When they put a exercise room in the building in which I live. They put it in after they remodeled the building. At the time I started exercising, I was taking a medicine called Lopid. It was a medicine to raise my good cholesterol. I did not like the side effects the medicine had. I asked my doctor if she would take me off the medicine since I was exercising now. She had my blood tested again and my good cholesterol was high enough for her to have me stop taking the medicine. I ride the exercise bike they have in the exercise room. It tells me how many calories I burned and how much of a distance I have exercised. Exercise not only makes me feel good, but I believe it helps my recovery. Along with work I believe it makes be think clearer and I get new ideas to help myself in life as well as work. What do you think about exercise and recovery?


Monday, August 31, 2009


This is a story from a co-worker of mine at Evaluation and Research. We started down different paths. But ended up working for the same department.

For many years I have spent my life in the shadows; in schools, in my family's home, in the military. I was found beneath a tree one summer's day, incoherent. A counselor from a Mental Health Center showed concern. I spent a lot of time since that day answering questions about my situation, about my life. I was placed in a number of hospitals, not many, and slowly with group sessions, and many medication adjustments' I began to see beyond the veil of the illusions which plagued me.
Responsibility became my priority once I saw the light of right and wrong. I tried college, yet family illness, and death hampered my progress. There was still a lot to learn. I stopped and started and finally followed some advice of another case manager of MHCD, "if you want to change your life, change it for someone you care about, YOU!" I enrolled in a Vocational Rehabilitation school (2succeed), learning how to assemble computers, install Operating Systems, using Office programs. I again stepped out of the fog, this time with a smile. The system of Mental Health in Colorado, took my hand, and I learned not only to trust, yet to know through hope you can perservere if you can go beyond the fear.
This same Mental Health Center (MHCD) eventually hired me two years ago. I knew nothing before then. I am a consumer (client) still, with support on hand if feel it's going to rain, yet I am also an Evaluation Research assistant which gives me a reason to stand a little taller and believe in myself.
Sometimes I sit in the quiet of a tree, I as others have travelled a long way. The journey will never end. Faith is another's hand, hope is the heart, and trust is another's belief in self. This is what MHCD's Recovery program has given me.

By Donald Sammons

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This is a comment on a article I read from the UK

This is a comment on an article I read from the UK. It is the difference between recovery and what they call thriving. I liked some of the differences and they seem to fit me and how I view myself. One part I do not agree on is the medication part, because for me it works. I take it daily and then forget about. How do you feel about taking medication? Let me know. I then accept myself as a normal person. The things I do like about thriving are that it says you are an independent person. I like that for me I work and give back to the community part. I agree with most of the article. Just click on Elemental . To view the thriving article on the website click on differences.

I'm Charles Leon, I will be doing most of the posting now.

HI my name is Charles and I posted one article on my recovery. I will be doing most of the upkeep on our blog. Alexi has moved on and returned to college. I am looking forward to posting some new articles including another on the UK. I found one that changes the way we look at recovery. They have changed from recovery into what they call thriving. I looked at the article and I like the new approach because it is more suited to how I feel about my mental illness and where I am today.
Thanks, Charles

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More great mental health recovery articles

Hey crew:

I have some more great mental health recovery articles to shoot your way. Read over them and let me know what you think about them!

1) What Mental Health Recovery Means
2) Peer Mentoring and Mental Health Recovery
3) 10 Tips for Staying Mentally Healthy

Hope you enjoy the read as much as I did!

Until next time, stay healthy, stay happy
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Recovery Story

Greetings all!

I thought this was a very touching story, this is a recovery story that a very close friend of mine sent to me. Please feel free to comment and discuss your own recovery stories as well! If you have a great story, email me and we will of course put it up as a main post! Here is the recovery story:

It all started with an idea that I could achieve something I wanted. That idea was to learn computers. I had already fought to have a medication that would not make my arms or hands shake. That way it did not look like I was on medication. I was already going to school and using an apple computer to learn typing, using a program called Typing Tutor. I was also learning math.

While I was going to school I was getting the necessary documents together to start college. I was accepted to the Metropolitan State College at Denver in August of 1993. I had already taken a year of WordPerfect on an IBM computer. My first week at college, I was sick and they had to re-adjust my medication. I had already missed a whole week of classes and had to re-arrange some due to the fact that you could only have four absences throughout the entire course; a limit I had already exceeded.

One of my new classes was creative writing/sociology and that teacher taught me something I have used ever since and that is never give up. I only attended college part-time to better concentrate on my classes. I never gave up; I had a dream to get an education. I finally graduated in 2001 after completing an internship in private practice counseling. I did not like it, so I enrolled at University of Colorado at Denver and started in May of 2002.

I took Public Administration and graduated in December of 2005 with my masters degree. All the time that I was going to college I was also at the Mental Health Center of Denver for treatment. I had several psychiatrists while I was there. I liked them all but some had to move on. I had the same counselor while I was there, and I always discussed school with him. He helped a lot because he knew others that had gone to, and successfully completed, college while in the recovery process.

I went one time to get a letter from my nurse and we were talking about how I would be finishing college soon. She told me about 2Succeed and how they would help with me making a resume. 2Succeed is a vocational program run through MHCD which helps people in recovery get further education, employment, etc. When I graduated, I went there and they signed me up and told me they could help me find a job and help me make a resume.. They did and my first job was on the survey team. I was on the first survey team in 2006. In 2007, I was also part of the survey team. I also worked as the survey manager for the PRO survey. Several of the consumer team members went on to find jobs elsewhere. Being part of the survey team gave us confidence to go and find work elsewhere. If you would like to find out a little more about the survey team then follow this link. Now I work as a full time employee for MHCD. I have been a consumer with MHCD for sixteen years.
I recently changed medicine and it had to be adjusted, although it is the best medicine I have been on since I was diagnosed with a mental illness. It allows me to work and do everything I want to do. It all has not been without struggles, but they are easier to deal with than before I had my mental illness. My old life was not so good, I could not achieve what I have achieved today. To me, recovery is changing your life for the better no matter what you want to do with your new life.

How inspiring! What a great contribution. Continuing through college to obtain a masters degree! And having a better life than before due to recovery.

Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences!

Until next time my friends, stay happy, stay healthy.
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Non-Medicinal Methods to Help Speed Recovery

Greetings All:

I would like to take a post to recognize the importance of the non-medicinal aspect of a recovery-based treatment. I once came across a rather apt metaphor, the standard medical approach of mental health treats the body as a hydraulic system. It treats mental healthcare consumers as if a problem is purely a questions of one’s fluids or chemicals being out of balance; thus with dogged determination (and much painful experimentation to the consumer) finding the right combination of medications will solve the problem.

Unfortunately, mental health ailments to not exist in a vacuum. They are very much influenced by social situations, environmental stimuli, and many many other factors. The mental health recovery model takes these other factors into consideration, and treats all levels of the consumer (rather than just the chemical level), leading to much more systematic, holistic remedies.

An ammendment to my earlier post, this metaphor is compliments of Larry Drain's creative works, so for more reading of his work click on the link and read up on his great blog!

Thus I would like to spend a few moments to talk about common approaches in the mental health recovery model for aspects of one’s life that cannot be resolved with medications. Importantly I do not mean to say the recovery model does not use medications, it absolutely does, and should, for many mental illnesses stem from biological imbalances, but medical intervention is just one factor of treatment, rather than THE factor of treatment.

Below are some of the two most popular and beneficial activities that one might find helpful that do not require medication:

1) Meditation: this seems to be coming up more and more frequently. Meditation, whether religious or non-denominational, seems to have power in the act of self-reflection. It also internalizes one’s locus of control thus making one much more responsive to their own actions. Meditation is actually now being taught in a form of recovery-based treatment known as dialectical behavior treatment, and is proving to be most effective! If you check out the online community, you will also notice countless posts of people with severe mental illnesses stating that they have effectively eliminated their symptom interference through a disciplined schedule of meditation.
2) Exercise: exercise is just as important as meditation as for recovery from a mental illness for exercise often takes the form of active meditation. It also releases stress and is just good for you in general! On a more medical side, exercise releases a chemical known as brain derived neurtropic factor, which recent research indicates is linked to recreating brain cells. An active lifestyle does wonders for recovery!

Of course if you would like to find out more information, there is a wealth of knowledge out there! Check out this article in particular: What Is Mental Health Recovery, and the Wiki is also surprisingly informative about the mental health recovery model!

Just a few ideas on natural ways to aid recovery!

Until next time,
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Funding Issues and Reimbursement and the Mental Health Recovery Model

Greetings all:

I have come across this argument against the mental health recovery model in many situations, and after talking with Larry Drain initially on the subject I would like to address the issue of funding reimbursement in recovery-based clinics.

There seems to be several factors that can increase a recovery-based clinic’s funding reimbursement possibilities. Among the most important are:

1) Having large, well organized advocacy support groups: advocates are of huge importance in lobbying state legislature to insure minimal budget cuts to mental health occur. They also are instrumental in bringing in donations, corporate funding, and many other services that would be nearly impossible for a clinic operating on its own to procure. Get several great advocacy groups active in your community, if there aren’t any, create some. A good source for finding national advocacy groups is by clicking here.

2) Crunching your Research Numbers: if your clinic is involved in research or filters clinical data into a research facility, figure out the value added from your data and be able to present these for grant proposals and meetings with state and national officials. If the state can see a higher return on their dollar invested, they will likely continue to give your organization funding. This is a form of cost-benefit analysis for the state which is provided by the clinic; if your organization does not have the capacity to perform such calculations, seek out one which does. This type of consulting is actually in the works at the organization I currently am doing research with, so if your at a loss by all means contact one of their team members to see if they can get something started for you at the research and evaluation homepage.

3) Analyze your consumer population: what type of consumer your clinic treats can definitely affect funding allocations. For example, facilities that treat consumers with severe and persistent mental illnesses tend to get further grant funding than general clinics. If a certain consumer group makes up a large amount of your clientele, highlight the fact and seek out advocacy groups and grant sources which focus upon treatment and research in that area.

4) Consider an Evidence-Based Approach: the mental health recovery model and evidence-based practices are not mutually exclusive. Recently government officials are actually calling for an alliance of the two practices for the purpose of providing evidence that the recovery model is actually effective. In order for this approach to work, your organization needs to start collecting data pronto. More important than the collection of data, however, is the processing of said data. If your clinic does not have the data expertise required to do this, look for large research facilities in the surrounding area that do. This will allow you to provide actual figures for grant applications which can be invaluable. The quality of information gathered is also of huge importance. The use of psychometrics for this purpose is a popular approach. A rather inexpensive solution is to explore options with Basis 24 surveys; also a possibility is MHCD’s own Reaching Recovery Initiative. Again I cannot stress the point enough, gathering data is only 1/3 of the battle, you have to actually do something with that data for it to be worth the collection!

These are just a few suggestions; Larry and I will continue our conversation and hopefully I can perhaps offer more solutions based on our discourse. Data analysis in mental healthcare is becoming increasingly important; if your clinic does not have the capabilities to crunch such numbers, consider bringing on a programmer, an information systems specialist, or a statistician for that very purpose.

Just a few ideas on funding reimbursement solutions for the mental health recovery model! If you have more suggestions feel free to post a reply! Also if your looking for an active advocacy group shoot a reply my way as well. If you ARE an active advocacy group, hit a reply too, maybe we can do some cyber mental-health match-making and get the communication flowing!

Until next time,
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

UK’s Approach to the Mental Health Recovery Model

In doing a bit of cross-cultural examination a co-worker of mine has been looking into characteristics the mental health recovery model in England has taken on. As discussed in an article ”What Is Mental Health Recovery”, there are definitely cultural differences in the mental health recovery model between countries.

More specifically, the United Kingdom tends to use more peer mentorship and peer counseling programs than American practitioners of recovery do; this is allowed to a large extent because mental ailments in the United States are often followed by alienation from one’s social network whereas in the U.K. the social network not only stands by, but views it as an obligation to support a friend or loved one who is trying to recovery from a mental illness.

The UK Mental Health Recovery Model video introduces an interesting topic. The speed at which UK practitioners can get someone into mental healthcare is amazing; generally a mental healthcare worker will receive a referral from a general practitioner, and the consumer will receive a call three days later regarding an appointment.

In Essex, those consumers recovering from a mental illness are employed on an organic farm wherein they raise cabbages, Brussel sprouts, and a number of other vegetables for both consumption and for sale at the local market. This keeps those recovering from a mental illness busy (which is very beneficial for those who are suffering from ailments such as depression), while empowering them with a purpose of employment.

A very interesting take on the mental health recovery model. American practitioners are likewise aiming at providing employment opportunities for mental health consumers, but as of yet I haven’t heard of a work-group for organic farming! The recovery rate seems to be fairly spectacular, so something in the equation is right. Perhaps it’s something in the ground water, right? No no, all joking aside, very interesting article, and an inventive take on the mental health recovery model.

Check it out if you can and comment here on what you think!

As always, for access to further free research on mental health recovery, check out MHCD's Research and Evaluations homepage.

Until next time my friends,
Research and Evaluations

Criticisms of the Mental Health Recovery Model

Hello all:

As per Will’s direction on his blog, WillSpirit, I was pointed to a number of criticisms for the recovery movement that I would like to address. Some of them are very valid, others are somewhat misconceptions, but as with every model the mental health recovery model is not without its faults, so in an attempt to give you an unbiased view, I will review such shortcomings and my opinions on them here:

1) The recovery model adds to the burden of the providers

Recovery in fact decreases the burden of the mental healthcare provider. As is demonstrated by both the American Clubhouse model and the U.K. model, recovery oriented clinics tend to lean towards the use of peer mentorships and peer counselors. These advisors (usually individuals on the road to recovery or recovered who suffered from the same or a similar diagnosis) take some of the burden away from case managers and physicians by re-acquainting mental healthcare consumers with basic social interactions, going to the movies, etc.

2) Recovery must involve cure

This is probably the battle that is fought the most in the recovery movement, as the term recovery implicitly refers to absence of ailments, a return to normalcy, and no symptom interference at all. While perhaps a different name would have lead to less confusion, that is the name and there is not much to be done about it now, but recovery in a mental health setting certainly does not imply complete absence of symptom interference. Some mental illnesses are severe and persistent and may never go away; the mental health recovery model merely focuses on empowering individuals to allow them to lead long, fulfilling lives in spite of symptoms and to teach them how to maintain a successful career and meaningful relationships.

3) Recovery-oriented care can only be pursued through new resources

Well…this one is a yes and no. Yes new trainings will need to take place and should a clinic wish to purchase psychographic measurement tools those will need to be brought on, along with their supporting technologies and data-management system. But in terms of actual resources nothing overly extravagant is required of a recovery-clinic that a normal clinic wouldn’t already have.

4) Recovery-oriented care is not reimbursable or evidence based

This argument is flat-out incorrect. The development of psychographics is a growing industry and millions of dollars of funding is going towards research institutes and clinics for the exploration into such quantifiable measurements of recovery. Reimbursement has never been an issue for recovery-clinics. What is a bit of a concern is the expertise needed to analyze the aggregated psychographic indicators; this often times will require an advanced multidisciplinary team, but smaller clinics without such researchers can of course outsource the data analysis to more equipped research facilities or to independent contractors.

5) Recovery devalues the role of professional intervention

Not so, recovery values the role of professionals but creates a relationship between professional and consumer as a team effort towards recovery, rather than in a traditional sense wherein the professional instructed the consumer as to what they were doing wrong and how to fix it. This leads to more constructive internal motivations for the consumer thus is more effective. Recovery does change the role of the professional, as is implied via the team- rather than boss-relationship, and the use of peer mentors and councilors does take away some day-to-day duties of professionals, but this freeing of time should be seen as a relief and an opportunity to devote one’s time to more complicated and intricate matters rather than spending that time showing a consumer where to get a bus pass, etc (which is now a duty taken on by peer support groups and case managers).

These were just some of the biggest criticisms I found on the web. If you have more pressing concerns that haven’t been addressed I would love to address them so just shoot me a comment!

Until next time,
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Monday, July 20, 2009

Some Great Recovery-Based Articles

Hey all:

I've been doing some research and some writing of my own, and thought I might direct you to some great general articles for Mental Health Recovery. If you have time to read through them I'd love to hear what you think here on the blog!

They reference MHCD a decent amount but that is simply because that is where my knowledge-base is coming from. They are not intended to be salesy at all, so I welcome discourse from all aspects of the mental healthcare field! The links are below:

1) 10 Tips to Staying Mentally Healthy
2) MHCD and Mental Health Recovery
3) Measuring Recovery in Mental Health
4) The Mental Health Recovery Movement

I have also written about eight much more informative academically based articles that I have submitted to ezineArticles.com and am awaiting clearance for publication, so I will keep you posted on those but if they get cleared I'd love for you to check those out and give me your opinion as well!

Until next time!

Warm Regards,
Lex Douvasa
MHCD Research and Evaluations

The Importance of 'Play' and Recovery

Fun, meaningful, playful activities are proving to be of growing importance to mental health recovery. Physical activity serves as a form of active meditation, which allows for introspection and self-reflection. Self meditation is reminiscent of a form of treatment for mental illnesses often referred to as dialectic behavioral treatment (DBT).

Self-reflective importance aside, recent research has indicated modern man’s minds evolved moving 12 miles per day. This physical activity is now believed to re-from brain derived nuertropic factor, the chemical responsible for creating and repairing brain cells.

Where it was once believed that one’s brain cells was a static number, and if you do something damaging to destroy said brain cells they were gone for good, now it is believed that a regiment of elongated physical activity produces brain derived nuertropic factor, which in turn can lead to the creation of more brain cells.

This holds incredible implications for substance abuse mental health consumers and mental healthcare consumers in general and begins to explain why practitioners are so ardent about stressing physical activity. I will be researching this more and posting an article about it shortly!

For more links to publications, check out MHCD’s Research and Evaluation Publications.

John Gale on Recovery

I recently posted a comment asking about recovery on John Gale's blog, which can be reached at John's Blog, his comments were:

Thanks for your comments. I'm not aware of the connection between shock
treatment and dementia although this does sound interesting. As far as the
Recovery movement goes we get quite a bit of interest in it here at the Bethlem
Library and it is generally thought to be a good thing. The idea is - broadly
speaking - not to aim at a medically-defined cure but to enable people with
mental-health problems to feel properly part of society with fulfilling work,
personal relationships etc even if they still have some symptoms. One of the
most popular books we have on it is Social Inclusion and Recovery: a Model for
Mental Health Practice by Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins published by Bailliere
Tindall, 2003 ISBN 9780702026010

Best Wishes,


Thanks for the input John! As you can see, many look at recovery in different lights. John and I definately see eye to eye in the fact that Recovery is about making someone feel like they are a productive member of society through empowerment; much of this comes from confidence in housing, employment status, and living arrangments.

I tend to believe that Recovery is focused upon medical symptomes however, and that it is more a systematic treatment/intervention at multiple levels of an individual's life. This is often referred to as a hierarchy approach in systems-thinking methods as related to healthcare.

The hierarchy that affects one's health is often, from the highest level to the micro-level, regarded as everything from society at large to molecules in the individual. Typically, medical professionals are very focused on the micro-level and leave the macro-level untreated. Psychology and psychiatry often try to bridge the gap for recognition of social conditions can represent themselves via medical conditions.

Thus Recovery is a full-hierarchy approach to mental healthcare. It attacks the molecular level through correcting chemical imbalances via medication, but also focuses on social factors as well. This allows for a multi-tiered recovery treatment plan, which I believe will be much more effective for mental healthcare consumers.

Thanks again for your response John! Your input was invaluable and we'd love to hear back from you for further discussion on this if your time allows!

For more information on recovery research, check out MHCD's Research and Evaluation Homepage.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Measuring Mental Health Recovery

Greetings again. In my earlier two posts I made frequent reference to mental health recovery and the meaning of recovery therein. Through my work experience as an Evaluation's and Information Systems Specialist, I have come to learn that one of the leading research facilities in the field, the Mental Health Center of Denver, has developed instruments to quantifiably track psychological recovery.

Such instruments, in a project they are calling the Reaching Recovery Initiative, are designed to quantitatively track and measure a mental health consumer's progress and condition throughout their clinical treatment. The instruments were developed and tested by MHCD’s Research and Evaluation’s Department, which is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of biostatisticians, Ph.D.’s in experimental psychology, computer programmers, data specialists, clinical case managers, and other clinicians.

The data to create said recovery instruments was initially gathered from, and is currently supported and utilized by, their out-patient treatment facilities throughout the Denver-metro area, wherein the organization, staffed with some 500 employees, treated over 11,000 consumers in the last year.

For professionals, check out their recent research and publications by following this link, or access the Research and Evaluation’s home page here, and let us know what you think about the recovery research, research on child resiliency, adult recovery, etc.

For mental health care consumers, if you are interested in a recovery-based treatment plan, or just in finding out what one is like, check out the MHCD Homepage. If you have actually been a consumer whose case manager utilizes the recovery instruments, we’d love to hear more on your experience with them.

Keep posting my friends! We are trying to create a platform for meaningful communications; and by that I mean communication between professionals, between mental healthcare consumers, and a dialogue of consumers and professionals communicating with one another. None of that would be possible without your help and your comments!

Until next time, stay healthy, stay happy.

What Recovery Means

In my first post, I made reference to the idea of mental health recovery, which is a unique movement among mental health practitioners that I would like to explore. The term recovery is perhaps a bit misleading in regards to mental healthcare, for some of the more frequently seen definitions of recovery include:

1) The regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away
2) Restoration or return to health from sickness
3) Restoration or return to any former and better state or condition
4) The regaining of substance in usable form, as from refuse material or waste products

Such definitions are problematic. In mental healthcare, nothing is truly taken away or lost, there is simply a change in condition. Restoration from a sickness is associated with being cured, or with the absence of said sickness; when mental ailments are concerned, however, the truth is in some situations there will never be a total absence of symptoms. Restoration to a better state is entirely too ambiguous, and regaining substance in usable form is entirely irrelevant. So what does recovery mean in the terms of mental health?

Recovery, as leading expert Pricilla Ridgeway defines it, is an ongoing process of self directed healing and transformation. The Mental Health Center of Denver, a leading research facility, and one of the largest community-based mental health treatment facilities in the nation, further expands upon the definition by stating it is a non-linear process of transformation involving one’s fulfillment in hope, growth, social network satisfaction, symptom interference, and a feeling of personal safety.

Recovery, in terms of mental healthcare, does not mean an absence of all symptoms. Such a situation is often not a reality. But it means continuing to live a rich and fulfilling life regardless of, not in spite of, one’s condition.

The recovery movement seems to be spreading across the world rather persistently. In the U.S., several research facilities have taken on such an approach and are obtaining some rather remarkable results.

If you are a practitioner who has recently begun working in a research-oriented facility, please comment about what you feel the difference in cultures is and whether this new recovery-based approach or the traditional method of treatment is more effective.

Likewise if you are a mental healthcare consumer, please share your opinions on the differences between different oriented facilities! Your opinions are incredibly important, for they will let readers determine which type of facility would best suit their needs so please share with us.

I will do some more research on this recovery approach and let you know what I find!

Until next time, stay healthy, stay happy.

Welcome to the Recovery Blog

If you examine different cultural approaches to mental healthcare, one begins to notice some remarkable differences. In the United Kingdom, mental healthcare is treated as a component of the entire self, treatments are focused upon not just the individual ailment, but on the individual’s surroundings, cultural practices, and societal norms.

In New Zealand, mental healthcare practitioners were mandated, per a government act, to take on a culturally-based recovery approach. What does this mean? As the New Zealand Health Commissioner put it, it involves dealing with recovery in a manner that takes cultural and societal actions, norms, discriminations, and manifestations into account when dealing with recovery.

Unfortunately in the United States, mental health has often taken a back seat, or even a shameful seat, but why? When you have a heart problem what do you do? You see a cardiologist pronto! Why should things be any different when one is trying to protect their most prized position, their mind? Taking action is something one should be proud of.

With that in mind, I would like to share my hopes for this blog. There is a lot out there on mental health, mental illnesses, and advice, but I would like to start a dialogue, both for clinicians and for mental health consumers alike, about what the process of a recovery-based treatment feels like from both sides. What do you go through? What do you expect? What are the obstacles?

For those receiving mental healthcare, I would love to hear what you found was the most helpful thing for your caregiver to do? What lent itself most aptly to your recovery? Or, if you haven’t seen what you want to see, what do you want to see?

For mental health caregivers, tell us what actions you see people taking on their own that is inspirational or leads to the fastest recovery, or prevention, from a mental illness? What are your own struggles?

Basically, this blog is designed to be an open dialogue to really discover what the process is from both sides. If your reading a post or responses and have a though, please, I know you are all very busy, but take the time to comment, because it is only through collaboration and communication that true progress in mental health recovery can occur.

Until next time, stay healthy, stay happy.
Lex Douvasa
Evaluations Specialist