NAMI Peer-to-Peer Week Two

Light Sage Green Family Room Wall
Light Sage Green Family Room Wall

As I attended my second week of NAMI Peer-to-Peer, my 14-year-old son and nephew painted our family room wall a beautiful shade of light green sage. Thank you, boys! Job well done. The room is already more restful with the new color on a wall.

NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a peer-led course in which those of us with mental health diagnoses learn from each other with sincere, uncritical acceptance. In class two we reviewed the course’s values or Core Philosophy:

1.  We have more in common than not.
2.  We are all experts on our own experience.
3.  We respect individual experiences and individual choices.
4.  We are free to choose our own path.
5.  There is no one true way to do or be anything.

We shared how mental illness is a traumatic experience, reviewed the consumer stages of recovery, discussed stigma and culture, and practiced mindfulness.

BRIDGES (Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support) is a NAMI Tennessee copyrighted program that provides education and support to persons diagnosed with a mental illness. Here I list the BRIDGES Consumer Stages of Recovery from our handout. Each event and stage was briefly described and emotions and needs were listed for each stage.

Event 1 – Crisis
Stage 1 – Recuperation
Event 2 – Decision
Stage 2 – Rebuilding
Event 3 – Awakening
Stage 3 – Recovery/Discovery

This was written on the board, but I do not yet fully understand how we are to implement these steps.

F – Focus
A – Assess
V – Validate
O – Options
R – Reinforce/Reassess

I have never before thought of mental illness as something from which you recover. Instead, I’ve thought of it as something with which you live and cope. Similarly, my experience is far from linear. I have setbacks. My moods still cycle. I am sensitive to my environment. I cannot control all of the things that affect my stability. I did a quick search and found this abstract:

Applying stages of change models to recovery from serious mental illness: contributions and limitations.

They conclude that stages of change models need to more accurately reflect the non-linear nature of recovery, the fact that processes are influenced by person-disorder-environment interactions, and the fact that the persons own motivations for change and decisions in this regard while of central importance are by no means exclusive factors in recovery, as they do not take into account sufficiently such issues as discrimination and the presence or absence of crucial resources and supports. A richer set of concepts is needed as we continue to deepen our understanding of the complex, dynamic and ongoing process of mental health recovery.

Their conclusion more closely aligns with my own personal experience. Still, there is value to be gained, lessons to be learned in attending the classes. I look forward to adding more tools to my arsenal.

12 thoughts on “NAMI Peer-to-Peer Week Two

  1. Sandy Sue August 2, 2014 / 4:00 am

    I’ve always thought “recovery” was a loaded word for those of us with mental illness. I remember my instructor saying it meant “returning to a higher level of functioning after an episode or relapse.” So, really, it’s part of our cycle. An important part of Peer work is to recognize where someone else is in the cycle and respond accordingly (the FAVOR stuff). Someone in crisis isn’t ready to look at options, for example. It’s not as linear as it looks.


    • Kitt O'Malley August 2, 2014 / 7:09 pm

      Thank you for clarifying. Honestly this is all new to me. I’m looking forward to learning more about peer to peer psychosocial support.


  2. WiL August 1, 2014 / 12:24 pm

    Very interesting thinking of mental illness as something traumatic from which to recover. I think i may agree with that in a way at least from when we are initially diagnosed/before reaching some level of stability. Thanks for sharing this information.


    • Kitt O'Malley August 2, 2014 / 10:47 pm

      Yes. Stability is certainly a great goal. As is increased independent functioning. I will learn more about what mental health recovery means as I continue with the classes.


  3. glenn2point0 July 31, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the update Kitt. Sounds interesting. And people do love their acronyms. Please do provide more details on the “FAVOR” model when you know about it.


  4. bipolar2what July 31, 2014 / 7:34 pm

    Excited to hear more about this. I rarely make it to the mental Heath group I have. Kept having ECT on the same day. Now that I am free I want to start going again. I think there is so much we can learn from each other.


  5. dyane July 31, 2014 / 6:48 pm

    I’m extremely proud of you for your commitment to this course, Kitt! I’m glad you discussed the non-linear aspects of recovery – it’s important for consumers to be presented with a realistic model of living as well as possible with mental illness. Congratulations on the lovely new room color and for securing free labor! 😉


    • Kitt O'Malley July 31, 2014 / 8:21 pm

      Free? No, I paid them quite handsomely. Not as handsome as they are, of course.


      • dyane August 2, 2014 / 9:26 am

        You are so kind! Yours truly is a cheapskate! (loved the “handsome” pun!)


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