Article: Understanding and Coping with Substance Use and Mental Health

Article: Understanding and Coping with Substance Use and Mental Health

Substance use problems, including alcohol and drug misuse, are much more common in people with mental health challenges than in the general population. For example, about 50% of people with serious mental health challenges experience problematic substance use at some point in their lives, compared to only about 15% of people without a mental health condition. Why are the rates of substance use problems so much higher in people with a mental health condition?…

Article: What is a Recovery Coach?

Article: What is a Recovery Coach?

You’ve been hearing about them. You’ve seen them hanging out at the Recovery Center and your friend’s sister’s partner is one! That’s right! Recovery Coaches are more and more common. In Massachusetts, they are everywhere. It’s a beautiful thing! Yet, some amount of mystery remains…What is a Recovery Coach and what do they REALLY do?…

What’s in a recovery story?

What’s in a recovery story?

For the past 15 years, the MGH Schizophrenia Program has hosted an annual Public Education Day for individuals with lived experience and their families. Without a doubt, the most popular component of this event that has been a panel of 3-4 people with lived experience talking about their recovery. This positive reception and my own reactions over the years as a clinician to hearing about and witnessing the journey from struggling to recovery has made me reflect on the function of recovery stories…

On becoming or working with a CPS in Massachusetts

On becoming or working with a CPS in Massachusetts

A Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) is a person who has experienced mental health issues, trauma and/or substance-use issues and has been through training designed to enable them to help others through similar situations. CPSs hold a unique role in the field of Mental Health Care. They provide emotional support, advocacy, and share community resources from the perspective of someone who identifies as having first-hand lived experience of recovery…

Benefits of peer support: What can the data tell us?

Benefits of peer support: What can the data tell us?

The availability of peer support services has skyrocketed in recent years and is expected to continue to grow, in part from a focused and determined peer advocacy movement. While many peers and service users attest to the benefits of peer support services in enhancing recovery and wellness, the research literature is dominated by mixed reports about the effectiveness of peer support services. However, we argue this should not be taken as evidence that peer support services are not effective for several reasons which we outline below…

Per aspera ad astra – Through hardship to the stars: The role of psychiatry on the long and stony road towards recovery

Per aspera ad astra – Through hardship to the stars:  The role of psychiatry on the long and stony road towards recovery

“Recovery” is one of those tricky words in mental health. It carries a generally positive connotation to some, but not all, and means different things to different people. Some equate recovery with being “cured,” returning to a former state of wellness, or as synonymous with no longer needing psychiatric medications. Others conceptualize recovery as the development of self-acceptance, meaning and purpose in the face of adversity. In this opinion piece, I examine my own use of the term recovery…