Celebrate the spirit of National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month, sponsored by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is recognized each September.

Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.

Here are just a few stories from individuals celebrating Recovery Month

Today I work in recovery advocacy, and I try to help people who are experiencing the suffering I once did. My life today isn’t always easy, but I know that my recovery and the support I have in my life today can carry me through any situation life brings to me. 

Plain and simple, medication management and psychotherapy have helped me stay on the path of recovery from my mental health conditions. I’m an aspiring author with an autobiography detailing my mental health issues, and I advocate for the mentally ill. I am now 45 years old and living life to the fullest.

I have been in recovery for 15 years. I feel everyday is an accomplishment in my sobriety. I am happy and living a fulfilling life as I never experienced during my addiction. I am now working towards my masters of social work degree and will use this education to work with those dealing with mental health issues and addictions.

My life has been an unfolding process of searching for my truth and my liberation. A major part of my journey has been looking back with a deeper lens at what happened to me. I was put in a mental institution at age 16 and told that I had an incurable brain disease. The experts, however, were wrong.

For more stories about recovery, click here

Aurora Psychiatric Hospital supports individuals in recovery in many ways. One of the most recent projects is the renovation of the President’s House, which will benefit recovery support groups.

If you or someone you know would benefit from addiction treatment or mental health services, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

For more information about National Recovery Month go to www.recoverymonth.gov

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.


What is the Maudsley approach to treating anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa was initially recognized more than 125 years ago and today has one of the highest mortality rates among all the mental health disorders.  Advancements have been made to help treat this disease, but it continues to be on the rise.

Elizabeth Hunkins is a therapist with Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

Family based treatment (FBT) for anorexia nervosa (AN) is an outpatient treatment option that strives for weight restoration and addresses the adolescent’s development after weight has been restored.

This treatment model has been shown to demonstrate efficacy in numerous research studies, and consequently been a highly successful treatment alternative to higher levels of care.

One 2010 study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, showed 49 percent of those who had been in family therapy were in full remission, more than double the 23 percent of those who had been in individual therapy. And among patients who were in remission at the end of the treatment itself, only 10 percent of the family-therapy group had relapsed a year later, compared with 40 percent of those who had individual therapy.

In the Maudsley method of treatment, parents play an active role in the recovery process.  Parents are a key resource and essential for successful treatment for AN.  Maudsley does not believe there should be any “blame” on the family due to this illness or any hostility or criticism towards the adolescent.

Phase 1: Weight restoration:  The therapist’s focus with the family is about the dangers AN and severe malnutrition play, and assisting parents in re-feeding their child. The re-feeding stage is one of the most stressful points for the patient and also for the parents.  Therapists need to be mindful how this affects the entire family.  Helping the parents stay focused on the re-feeding and not get into power struggles with the illness is key.

The therapist helps the family understand the difference between their child and the illness, and continues to help towards the goal of weight restoration.  Usually during the beginning phase of treatment the therapist observes a family meal to provide an opportunity to assess the family’s interaction around food and then to assist/encourage parents in ways to help their child “eat a little more” as food is medicine.  Parents may need coaching that it is important to take time for themselves, as this can be stressful on a marriage.

Phase 2: Returning control over eating to the adolescent: The patient’s acceptance of the parents’ role in re-feeding, weight gain, and taking more control over the eating disorder behaviors are all positive signs that the family is entering phase 2 of treatment.  This phase encourages parents to help their child take more control over their eating and parents continue to maintain and watch over the adolescent’s physical health.  This phase will also begin to start discussing other family relationship issues that had to be postponed during the re-feeding phase.

Phase 3: Establishing health adolescent identity: This phase begins when the adolescent is able to maintain above 95% of ideal weight on his/her own.  Treatment shifts to the impact of AN and addressing other important treatment issues; identity issues, boundaries, personal autonomy, etc.

This treatment has shown great promise with those adolescents who have had AN if the family is willing to play an active role in treatment. Parents need to be aware of the time commitment this treatment will take prior to starting this treatment-as this treatment is not for every family.  The Maudsley therapist also believes in a treatment team approach, working with other medical professionals for the best successful outcome.

More information about the Maudsley approach can be found online at Maudsley Parents.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

Preventing suicide: a sister’s emotional plea

This heart-felt letter was written by a sister who lost her brother too soon.

In 2011, my younger brother chose to end his life. He was so very smart, handsome, and kind-hearted. He was a talented potter. He appreciated beauty in the simplest things. He gave kindness to everyone and expected it in return. He had a wicked sense of humor. And he was tormented by a barely diagnosed and untreated mental disorder.

Since that day, my family has been on a roller coaster of emotions: guilt, anger, shame, fear, loneliness, despair and overwhelming sadness.  We would have done anything to get him the help he so desperately needed, but he didn’t want it. So, this letter is a plea to anyone who has ever considered suicide; it’s a desperate plea not to do it.  There is someone out there who loves you, who needs you, and who wants to help you.  It may be someone in your family, it may be one of your friends, it may a doctor or a therapist or a teacher or a religious official, but someone wants to help you.

There are so many things we’ve learned over the last eight months. I learned what it’s like to be unable to sleep because of the terrible thoughts in your head. I’ve learned what it means to watch your parents cry wretchedly and not be able to comfort them. I’ve learned how to deal with grief in a way that allows it to be focused and not “shoot out” all over the place. I’ve learned that people move on and forget about you and your family; they say and do rude things without even thinking about it. I’ve learned that you should pay attention when the person with suicidal ideas stops talking because that’s when they are going to take action. I’ve learned that hindsight really is perfect vision.

Perhaps the most shocking of those things I’ve learned came in a conversation with my therapist. I was horrified to learn that people who are suicidal think that everyone they know will be better off if they are gone. This is so wrong. We are not better off because my brother is gone. The world is not better off because he is gone. Just like no one would be better off if you were gone. Your family, friends, co-workers, pets, and anyone who know you will not be better off because you are gone.

Whatever your personal situation is may seem overwhelming and insurmountable right now. It may seem like suicide is the only way out. It’s not the only way out; it’s the wrong way out. You will be missed very much. Someone will cry for you; someone will feel a sense of suffocating guilt that they couldn’t help you and that you are gone while they are still here; someone will be angry with you; someone will be lonely because you are gone.

Suicide is not the answer—don’t do it. While it may be hard to do and the thought may be overwhelming, I urge you to get help. Please learn from my family’s experience and know that you are wanted and loved and you will be missed.


A loving, concerned sister

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. The World Health Organization estimates that about one million people around the world die by suicide every year, and CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) 2007 data indicates more than 34,000 suicides occurred in the U.S. This is the equivalent of 94 suicides per day; one suicide every 15 minutes.

Visit these web sites for more information:

For more information about treatment for individuals experiencing anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide visit the web site for Aurora Psychiatric Hospital

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.