Op Ed published in The State Newspaper on September 18, 2014
Problems with mental illness and substance use disorders are common throughout our community. According to a 2012 survey by the federal government, 8.4 million American adults reported having co-occurring disorders, meaning they have both a mental health and a substance use disorder. While co-occurring disorders are common, so are stories of recovery. In fact, there are people in every walk of life in the Midlands who are on a path to mental and physical health. And as they work on their recovery journeys, they contribute to our communities, participate in business and provide for their families.
During the combined 68 years that our organizations, LRADAC and Companion Benefit Alternatives, have served in the behavioral health field, we’ve seen lives and families transformed through recovery. That’s why we’re speaking up to raise awareness of the 25th anniversary of National Recovery Month. This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out.” It represents the many ways people can prevent behavioral health problems, seek treatment, and sustain recovery as they commit to living mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy lives.
Mental health and/or substance use disorders, like other health problems, can be treated. Those who embrace recovery not only improve their health, but form stronger relationships with their neighbors, family members and peers. They can get better, both physically and emotionally.
Your help is an integral part of the recovery process. It’s critical that people experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders receive the support they need from their community – including friends, family members and others who speak up for their cause and reach out to lend a hand.
We encourage all community members and organizations to join in the celebration of National Recovery Month. Over the course of this month, think of someone you know who is somewhere on the road to recovery. Reach out and let them know there is hope. Numerous prevention, intervention and treatment programs are available. They can find these at schools and colleges, in the workplace, through community nonprofits and trained professionals. Starting the recovery process may be as simple as a phone call or website visit.
Behavioral health is essential to overall health. Prevention works, treatment is effective and people recover. But people can’t make this journey alone. They need your help. Speak up or reach out to help others experience the reality of recovery.
Gayle Aycock is the president and chief executive officer of LRADAC, the premier prevention, intervention and treatment provider in Lexington and Richland counties providing leadership throughout the state and achieving national recognition for excellence.
Stephanie Heckart, RN, is the chief operating officer of Companion Benefit Alternatives, a Columbia-based managed behavioral health organization that administers mental health and substance abuse benefits for more than 1.9 million members around the country.