NYAPRS Note: The following is a very thoughtful piece about the NYS Office of Mental Health’s new peer run Recovery Center model.
Is it a Recovery Center?
by Mitchell Klein, Regional Advocacy Specialist, Hudson River Field Office
We keep hearing about this new thing called a Recovery Center. What is it? Is it a place or a building or a concept? Do people go there for services, do services go to them, or are there services in the traditional sense at all?
If one goes to a fast food franchise in Manhattan and orders a sandwich, they know what they are getting. If the same person goes to the same franchise in Rochester and orders the same sandwich they know it will be exactly the same as the one in Manhattan. Not so with Recovery Centers. Each Recovery Center is indigenous to its location and the needs of the recipients it serves. The needs of the recipients in Peekskill may not be the same as those of the recipients in Catskill or the ones in Onondaga.
Not only do these Recovery Centers help people reintegrate into their own communities at large, they offer HOPE. I look at HOPE as an acronym meaningHelping Others to Prepare for Empowerment, Employment, Enjoyment, Eventualities, Essential skills, to be Efficient, to re- Enter society, Excellence, Etc.
A Recovery Center is really a misnomer for an entire concept of helping people back into their greater communities. It can help individuals find and/or ignite lost passions and skills leading towards self-directed socialization, employment, housing and life outside of the so-called mental health box. It is not a place, but a key to a door often shut for many recipients. Recovery Centers don't open the doors for the recipients or even hand people the keys. They help people learn the skills to make their own keys because not all barriers are the same for everyone. Recipients who have lived experience sharing with others imparts the notion that "if they can do it, so can I."
Everyone has a passion, something they enjoy. Some of us have lost that passion due to illness or medication, some have forgotten to feel that passion. When I speak with other recipients I relate about rediscovering some of my passions. I love photography and I found I also love orchids. I found out that I can't grow orchids in my apartment because they all die. However, I can photograph orchids and other flowers to my heart's content. My orchids (pictures) never have to be watered, never need the right amount of light or humidity and never die. I found out that others like looking at my photos and I can share my joy which also gives me pleasure. Eventually, I may even begin to sell my photos.
As I share my passion and enthusiasm, I hope that will bring about a "If he can do it, so can I" awakening in others. Recovery Centers offer HOPE, awakenings and key-making skills. They also save money and more importantly, lives.