The journey of mental health recovery

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mental-health-recovery20130722

Family, friends and peers can serve as an important support system for people with mental illness.

AT one point, Josh described his life as a nightmare. He heard voices compelling him to break into his parents’ homes and take his sister’s car, landing him in jail. He says it is difficult to discuss this period of his life without perpetuating the negative stigma related to his diagnosis of schizophrenia, a condition that affects about 2.5 million American adults. Now, 13 years later, with a treatment team and family support, Josh cites accepting his schizophrenia as the turning point in his recovery, allowing him to actively engage in his treatments and better manage his illness.

With a combination of treatment that may include medication and psychotherapy, many living with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar I disorder, are able to participate in daily activities and live meaningful lives.

“My medication and the support I’ve received from my treatment team have helped my symptoms improve over time. I feel I live a normal life,” says Josh. “A good sign that things are going well for me are the friendships I have with others and the support I receive from them.”

According to experts, a recovery plan can help people with severe mental illness meet their goals. Because everyone’s mental health recovery journey is his or her own, recovery plans are tailored toward each person’s unique needs.

Medication, including oral and injectable treatments, is the foundation of the recovery process for most people with schizophrenia. Taking antipsychotic medication regularly and as prescribed can help reduce symptoms.

Long-acting injectable antipsychotic therapies (LATs), which are administered every few weeks to a month depending on the medication, offer patients a choice of how often to take their medication and may help eliminate one less pill a day for their schizophrenia.

“With the right plan and support, I’ve seen individuals live fulfilling lives and contribute to society,” says David T. Susman, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Ky. “When I help someone build a recovery plan, we discuss personal, work and social goals, and strategies for how that individual, with help from their recovery team, can achieve those goals.”

The journey of recovery starts with hope, empowerment and understanding that people can overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them. Family, friends and peers can serve as an important support system.

“Families need to understand that schizophrenia is treatable and that there have been many developments in antipsychotic medications over the years,” says Katie Cadigan, documentary filmmaker and a caregiver for her brother who lives with schizophrenia. “The more our family learned about my brother’s disease, the more he welcomed our help in making treatment decisions and invited us to be part of his recovery.”

To learn more about how treatment can help support your recovery plan or that of a loved one, log on to www.TreatOnceMonthly.com.

TreatOnceMonthly.com provides resources for individuals living with schizophrenia to help them understand treatment options and choose a medication that is right for them with the help of a healthcare professional. Visit the site to watch patient videos, access a doctor’s visit guide and learn more about different types of long-acting treatment. North American Precis Syndicate

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., provided the content for this article.

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