Medical professionals today treat more than 12,000 types of human disease. Modern medicine, tools and therapies are more effective than ever in healing us from injury and disease. With thousands of ways to fix ailments, we sometimes forget the basics of wellness, which also support recovery.
Diagnosis of mental illness or substance use disorder once brought little hope of living a rewarding life. Today in the mental health field, expecting recovery from mental illness or substance use disorders is standard practice. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this year introduced a definition of recovery that is meant to assist collaboration among policy-makers, mental health professionals, researchers and others sharing the goal of mental health.
Recovery, according to the SAMHSA Recovery Support Strategic Initiative is "a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential." Wellness and recovery take the same path, supported by the four major dimensions.
With illness or without, we have many physical and emotional needs we need to meet. Professionals help us find the best treatment for an injury or illness but much of health is up to us to manage. Taking a wider look at our overall health and improving how we live is a great way to move closer to our potential. Though tempting to depend on temporary ways to make ourselves feel better when we make poor choices, to get better requires making healthier choices a habit. Our bodies and minds function best with regular physical activity, when we make smarter choices about what we put into our bodies, and when we maintain positive social networks.
A home that is both stable and safe is another dimension of recovery and wellness. Rest and unscheduled time helps restore energy we need to meet daily challenges. People sharing a home can work together to achieve and maintain a positive home environment for everyone to enjoy.
One of the most overlooked dimensions of mental wellbeing is having a meaningful purpose. Whether we plan to run a marathon or recover from substance abuse or mental illness, our motivation affects the outcome. People find purpose in many ways like caring for family, a rewarding job, volunteering, achieving independence or pursuing creative endeavors. Have you found your purpose? Purpose is motivating power that helps us reach our potential.
To enable people to reach their potential can be a community purpose. Communities in which every person has the resources they need to meaningfully participate in society are communities that support recovery and wellness. Whether we are recovering from illness or maintaining our health, we share the same path to wellness.
We should expect wellness as well as recovery from mental illness and substance abuse. We measure our expectations by how we honor and support each person's capacity to love, hope, and aspire - no matter where on the path to full potential we each may be.
Editor's note: Brian Rendel, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC, is a professional counselor with the?Copper Country Mental Health Institute in Houghton.