National Empowerment Center
Dan Fisher's Presentations on Recovery
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In Fisher’s mind, and in his experience, the state has the chance to bring about a historic shift, away from hospitalizations and what he said was rampant overuse of medication to a system of care that uses evidence-based alternatives that work.
Recently I overheard two senior mental health officials discussing recovery. One said, “I think recovery is a very important concept.” The other replied, “I agree,” and then he whispered, “But what is it?”
Indeed, we have a field and a society that have been highlighting the importance of recovery—and that have had little agreement about its meaning.
The New Freedom Commission stated: “We see a future when everyone with a mental illness will recover.” This vision has inspired many to advocate for recovery at the state and national levels. In 2006, SAMHSA published the 10 Components of Recovery. The Recovery to Practice initiative represents the next step in implementing recovery.
In this new era of healthcare reform, however, we need a broader concept of recovery... [To read the entire article, click here]
reports on conferences he attended in Reykjavík, Iceland; Dublin and
I had met Auður Axelsdóttir of Iceland 4 years ago in Denmark. She had given me
her card and asked me to visit Iceland to build on info Judi Chamberlin had
brought them seven years ago. So when I knew I was going to Ireland in May, I
contacted Auður and she set up a busy two‐day schedule for me in Iceland. This
was all set up long before the volcano erupted on Iceland, sending all travel
into chaos. But they and I were determined.
Nov. 5-6, 2009 - At the 25th Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, more than 150 mental health advocates, policy-makers, practitioners, educators, and researchers convened to discuss “Health Care Reform: Challenges and Opportunities for Behavioral Health Care Reform.” Dr. Fisher presented on the topic of comparative effectiveness research in mental health. He drew on personal lived experience as well as research carried out at the NEC. He pointed out the importance of integrating persons' lived experience into any research into recovery and wellbeing. He emphasized that participatory, qualitative, action research is best suited to gathering evidence as to the most effective means of assisting people to recover. For more information on the symposium, please visit www.cartercenter.org. [Click here to watch the video]
Here is the power point, in two parts, which Dan Fisher used with his keynote address, "How to Bring Hope, Self-determination, and Heart to Your Center".-
I knew the invitation to speak in Boardman, Oregon was important to me. Why else would I have traveled a day each way to present a one-day seminar? Boardman, Oregon is a very small rural town three hours east of Portland nestled along the gorgeous Columbia River. It was the meeting place of the administrators from the 32 county mental health programs in Oregon. They have a good deal of influence over the course of policies in Oregon's county-based mental health system. In the five years since the New Freedom Commission was released, I have focused much of my attention on Oregon as a pilot for transformation because they have shown consistent interest in implementing a recovery approach. In fact, this visit represented my fourth address to the county administrators. The difference was that this time Gina Nikkel, their Director of Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs (AOCMHP), had gained enough trust by the directors that she was able to schedule a full day out of their 2 1⁄2 day meeting schedule.
I was so impressed by the progress that that the group made that I will describe my agenda in some detail. (Click for more)
I realize from this trip that I travel to learn as much as to teach. The South Korean Commission on Human Rights had asked me to come to teach them what we have learned about recovery. I found that I learned as much about how I understand recovery as I taught. I found that by being with a people of such different language and culture so many miles away, I discovered a deeper meaning to my own life. I found that to recover from mental illness means really to recover one’s humanity at the deepest level. This movement of recovery is growing as our awareness of our common bond and need surpasses the ordinary bounds of daily existence. It indeed feels like a spiritual journey of all of humanity, for I believe that our humanity is linked to the humanity of every other being. (Click for more)
I was invited to speak at three occasions in Portugal this October. Dr. Jose Ornelas was particularly interested in having me address several members of the Portuguese Mental Health Commission. I also spoke at a national conference on rehabilitation and on my last day gave a workshop on empowerment to their emerging consumer leaders.
I was particularly happy to meet their emerging leaders, in their newly forming Empowerment Center. The six leaders were very interested and understand a great deal of what I shared. I was struck again by how universal the issues are. They too had felt hope had been robbed of them. They asked when psychiatrists would learn about recovery. They understood that having a voice meant having power to be taken seriously. (Click for more)
In April-May, 2006, I gave a series of talks in Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark. I talked but I also entered into dialogue with “users” (their name for consumer/survivors), families, and providers. This tour filled me with new understanding, which I want to share with you all. We entered into dialogues of mutuality across cultures and languages. My symbol for this sharing is found in the drawing of two hearts by a user from Denmark:
I now feel the core of recovery is as follows. Throughout our life we each pursue our development to become the unique person we deeply are. We develop this sense of ourselves through deepening emotional connections with important persons in our life. These connections provide us the light to see and feel our values and emotions. The better we know ourselves, the better we can self-direct our life based on our dreams and goals. When we experience various traumas causing us loss of control over our lives, we suffer extremes of emotional distress. If we are unable to share these emotions with others, we develop distortions in our thinking and feeling which interfere with our expected life role. We are then at risk of being labeled mentally ill, unless we can share these extremes of anger and sadness and transform them into passion. This passion can empower us to continue our journey of self-discovery. (Click for more)
On February 25, 2006, Dr. Fisher presented a keynote address and two workshops to the staff of Value Options in San Juan, Puerto Rico. CEO Marina Diaz had appreciated his presentation in May, 2005, and wanted to ensure more psychiatrists were in attendance. This cross-cultural experience was not only useful in informing the staff about the principles and implementation of recovery, but also helped Dr. Fisher learn more about recovery.
In the movie “Lost in Translation,” Bill Murray is constantly misunderstanding Japanese culture, and as a result misses a great deal of its meaning. In contrast, Dr. Fisher’s experience in Puerto Rico helped him to find new meaning in translation. He found new meaning in his work and his life through translating the NEC recovery manual, PACE, into Spanish and through the interactions during his presentations. (Click for more)
In many ways I feel I learned as much from the Japanese as they learned from me during my 5 days of sharing experiences with consumer/survivors and mental health professionals. During the period from November 17-21, 2005, I found that NEC's message of recovery resonated deeply with the several hundred Japanese people I met with. Across language and culture there are universal aspects of the principles of recovery that ring as true in Japan as they do in the United States.
I had been invited to Japan to speak in Osaka and in Tokyo on the topic of recovery. My wife and I were hosted by Professor Hiro Matsuda during our journey to these modern cities. Hiro made the whole trip possible and productive. I had met with him and Makiko, a consumer leader from Tokyo, in Massachusetts in March of this year. Hiro heads a self-help clearinghouse in Osaka. He was a terrific host and made my talks productive and our visit a delight. He took me to the main consumer-run social club in town, the Bochi Bochi Club (Step by Step Club) on the first day. It was really an important visit. I got to bond with the members and to learn of their concerns. I also started to realize the challenge... (Click for more)
I had an excellent opportunity to bring a message of hope and recovery to Northern Ireland on Nov. 12th and 13th. The users (their name for consumers), carers (family members in US), providers and administrators were eager to hear that recovery can and does occur for most people with mental illness. They especially appreciated the message of hope that I carried. Hope is vital in healing from fear and Northern Ireland is slowly emerging from 30 years of the trauma of a frightening civil war. They said that my messages of recovery and hope came at just the right time in the cultural transformation they are carrying out. The passion and enthusiasm of these people crossed all the usual divisions in the mental health world. The strong spirit of these people is palpable and itself inspiring. We in the US can learn a great deal about courage from them. (Click for more)
From Dream to Reality: How Consumers are Driving the Recovery Transformation - A PowerPoint presentation from Dan's visit with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHI), December 12th, 2005.
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