Recovery International Poised to Expand at Oregon State Hospital
OSH RECOVERY TIMES, April 2009
Oregon Department of Human Services: Oregon State Hospital
(Published with permission from Oregon State Hospital.)
By Lani Wright and Deb Lamp, Oregon State Hospital
As you may recall, our first touch with Recovery International occurred in late 2005 when two Oregon State Hospital residents asked Debra Lamp, OSH mental health specialist, to take them to a Recovery International group meeting in Salem. Word spread as people began to learn and use the Recovery International self-help system and saw how they increased their ability to deal appropriately with anger and fears, to interact more positively with peers and staff, and to lead more peaceful, calm and productive daily lives. With the permission of the Psychology Department chief and support from the Recovery International organization, the
first Recovery International group at OSH took root in March, 2006. That year, Oregon awarded Deb Lamp and Recovery International the 2006 Mental Health Award for Excellence.
Recovery International’s success in Oregon comes out of its history and foundation as a cognitive-behavioral method for an effective, compassionate path to self-managed recovery from mental illness, behavioral disorders and the stress of everyday life. Through learning to change thoughts and control impulsive behavior, self-control and self-respect increase, and patients enjoy more peaceful and productive daily lives. The late neuropsychiatrist Abraham A. Low, MD, developed the system to reduce recidivism in his patients at the University of Illinois Psychiatric Institute; Dr. Low evolved the system into a self-help process and trained patients to lead peer groups. Founded in 1937, Recovery International (then Recovery Inc.) was the first self-help system aimed at those suffering from mental disorders.
Recovery International does not offer diagnosis, treatment or counseling. Group participants are expected to collaborate with their own physician or mental health professional.
The OSH project was the first pilot to take the Recovery International methodology out of community settings and into other organizations. At OSH, Recovery International grew to as many as eight meetings, serving approximately 125 residents each week—25 percent of the patient population. Community-based Recovery International group and phone meetings are also available when people are discharged, and can be included in conditional release plans. Kathy Garcia, from Chicago, never graced the covers of Newsweek or Sports Illustrated (though perhaps she should have). Until she died last November, Kathy was the guiding light and pioneer of the huge changes Recovery International is making in spreading the method to all those who can benefit from it.
Closer to home, OSH Mental Health Specialist Deb Lamp will travel to Recovery International in Chicago later this spring to accept the first award honoring Kathy Garcia’s tenure of innovation as recent executive director of Recovery International. The award will honor Deb’s own innovation and persistence in working with OSH and Recovery International to establish the project. The OSH evidence highlighted how the methodology and program could be effective in any setting. Preliminary results? It is now being used in Los Angeles County jails, the Chicago school systems and the Montana State Hospital. Other pilots are being created in a variety of areas around the world. OSH was a valuable motivator in showing the organization the possibilities for the future of self-help mental health.
Due to a variety of factors, Recovery International is presently running only in the 50 building, with 35-40 people attending weekly. Some are displaying a “will to effort” to come from as far away as the cottages.
Recovery International at OSH is poised for an infusion of training for leadership that could revive it in every corner of the hospital.