Share YOUR OWN STORY of Community Recovery

If  “community recovery” is to be achieved, community members must believe that it is possible for individuals and communities to live with mental illness.  The perceptions and influence of community members can tip the direction of community mental health care in a positive or negative direction. A sense of fear or an accompanying hopelessness, can tip the equation in a negative direction.  But there are success stories that can help provide community members with concrete reasons to believe that their worst fears are not always realistic; they do not tell the whole story of mental illness.  There are success stories and there is hope.

In general, prejudice and discrimination of any kind can be addressed through (1) protest against discriminatory practices, (2) education to clarify myths and misinformation, and (3) opportunities for public contact with members of the stigmatized group.  Contact has proved to be the most effective method of breaking down barriers, but achieving such contact can be a Catch-22 when the public actively avoids contact based on the very prejudice that needs to be broken down. 

The community is typically isolated from contact with mental illness, save the “contact” of media reports or literary narratives, both more apt to focus on dire or dramatic stories.  This kind of  story feeds a sense of hopelessness regarding our ability to live comfortably with mental illness. These stories can support a rationale for not associating with those who are feared. It is less common to read stories that engender hope, stories of those who are adjusting to or coping with their illness, who are living productive lives.

There is indeed a need for factual, well-researched media stories that reveal bias and abuse and insist on necessary reform.  This kind of protest can create community awareness for needed reform.  Unfortunately, however, these stories only tell the community what not to do. For individuals or groups to effect change, they also need to know what to do.  “Hope” has been identified as the first step in the recovery model of treatment for individuals. The stories of Geel and other exemplary programs offer hope for communities and individuals, hope that both can “recover” in order to live with mental illness.


I am compiling a collection of stories of:

(1)  Individuals who are living meaningful and productive lives in spite of a diagnosis of mental illness

(2) Community recovery which encouraged and aided such individuals in achieving their goal of living a meaningful and productive life.

PLEASE SEND YOUR STORY, by e-mail or snail mail, TO:
Jackie Goldstein, Ph.D. (Web-site author)
Samford University Psychology Department
800 Lakeshore Drive, 307 Burns
Birmingham, AL 35229-2308

Stories will be published on this web-site and, with your permission, may be included in a book on Geel and community recovery (work in progress by web-site author)

Page added to web-site July 23, 2009