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For DMH’s Deaf and hard of hearing community, the benefits of peer specialists are beginning to blossom 

2015-recovery-month-vertical-web-bannerSeptember marks the 26th anniversary of Recovery Month, a time to spread the word that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. This year’s theme of “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!” encourages people to openly be seen and be vocal about mental health and substance use disorders. Every individual is valuable and has a unique story to share.

Peer support, combined with the philosophy of recovery, has changed the way services are delivered and expectations for people living with mental health conditions. Instead of “stability” and “managing one’s illness,” individuals can be part of a supportive community and use tools and resources to shape their unique hopes and dreams.

The infusion of peer support into the concept of recovery has had a tremendous impact on DMH in recent years. Recovery is a vital part of DMH’s mission and is reflected throughout the agency. For the Deaf and hard of hearing community, the benefits of peer specialists are beginning to bear fruit.

DMH received a grant from the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors to explore the ideas of peer support and recovery in the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. DMH partnered with The Transformation Center and a few courageous and committed deaf individuals who self-identified as having been diagnosed with a mental illness and/or experienced serious emotional crises. The Deaf team with lived experience spent time in the community discussing recovery, peer support, trauma and wellness and offering peer support and wellness tools for recovery. They learned a lot about how to discuss these concepts and how the Deaf community makes them their own.

In an effort to be “Visible, Vocal and Valuable,” The Deaf team recorded their own recovery stories and developed a short video called “Who Are We?

We all hope these will spark community dialogues. Have a look and get inspired to start the conversation!

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