HAZARD – City of Hazard Mayor Jimmy Lindon proclaimed September as National Recovery Month at a meeting with officials from Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC) on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The mayor signed the proclamation to raise awareness and improve the lives of those affected by mental health or substance abuse disorders.
The impact of these disorders is apparent in our local community, the proclamation states, and through Recovery Month, people become more aware and able to recognize the signs of the disorders, which can lead more people into needed treatment.
“The more you address these issues and bring it to people’s attention, the more you’ll be able to start fixing problems,” Lindon said.
In 2015, 46.9 percent of people aged 18 or older in the state of Kentucky had any mental illness according to the Behavioral Health Barometer, an annual state report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
National Recovery Month is an annual observance sponsored by SAMHSA, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has been celebrated every September since 1989. Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.
For KRCC recovery is not just a month-long goal, but something the agency works towards the whole year through, said KRCC Executive Director and CEO Mary Meade-McKenzie, who presented the proclamation, along with Judy Cattoi, KRCC’s director of substance abuse programs, and two KRCC employees living successful lives in recovery – Jennifer Erwin, director of men’s intensive services, and KRCC Events Coordinator Tim Deaton.
“You can’t do it (promote and achieve a recovery culture) in isolation,” said Meade-McKenzie. “If you don’t have good community partners to work with, if you don’t have mayors that are willing to sit in an office with you and talk about ideas, then you’re out there by yourself. And we all know there’s strength in numbers.”
Mayor Lindon and Meade-McKenzie said they were both “excited” to be working together and “doing good things in partnership.”
This year’s Recovery Month theme, Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!, highlights the value of peer support by educating, mentoring, and helping others. It invites individuals in recovery and their support systems to be active change agents in communities and in civic and advocacy engagements.
KRCC’s Hickory Hill Recovery Center will be participating in various events held in support of the theme, including the WestCare “Walk for Recovery” on Sept. 14 and the Hope Not Heroin Rally/Walk in Richmond on Sept. 24. These events are held to celebrate the journey those in recovery have made.
“For me, recovery is a lifelong process of personal growth and change. It’s trying to enjoy the journey and experiencing life with all its blessings and hardships,” said KRCC’s Jennifer Erwin. “Addiction is a deadly disease that affects every area of a person’s life, so recovery from addiction requires a complete lifestyle transformation.”
“Although, I spent many years in desperation, I am grateful for both my addiction and my recovery,” Erwin continued. “After all, how many people can say they’ve lived two completely different lives in one lifetime?”
The observance of Recovery Month raises awareness of mental health and/or substance use disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery, and acknowledges the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
KRCC offers various programs designed to help those struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder. For more information about these services, call KRCC’s 24-Hour Crisis and Information Hotline at 1-800-262-7491 or contact Director of Women’s Intensive Services Ryan McPeak, Director of Men’s Intensive Services Jennifer Erwin, Director of Turning Point (an intensive program for pregnant women) Bea Madden, DUI Coordinator Leo White, Director of Prevention Donna Hardin, or Melissa Estep, director of Hickory Hill Recovery Center.
Mindy Miller is a multimedia writer for Kentucky River Community Care.