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To commemorate September as Recovery Month, I have asked Dana McCrary, director of the Office of Recovery Transformation to provide perspective in this month's column.
We are in our 32nd year of celebrating National Recovery Month. Each September, we promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, people in recovery, and the growth and expansion of recovery-oriented systems of care in communities and across our nation. We host events to bring community awareness, address stigma and lift the voices of lived experience. We acknowledge the many peers, service providers, and allies who contribute to helping individuals heal and create pathways on their journey to recovery. Most of all, we bear witness to the world that recovery is possible, and it happens every day.
This is not the column I originally planned for this month.
Like many Georgians, I expected that the worst of the COVID pandemic would be behind us by now and that we would be celebrating back-to-school, enjoying return to sports, and anticipating cooler days ahead. Instead, we find ourselves enduring—trying to hold on as this global disease continues to wreak havoc on our healthcare system; trying to accept what we cannot change as the pandemic continues to hamper our travel plans and ability to gather without fear, and trying to cope as COVID continues to take the lives of people we love and admire in our communities. It’s maddening.
July is National Minority Mental Health Month. Per the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), this designation was created to raise awareness of the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.
We were very fortunate to be able to interview Terri Lawless, M.D., of East Central Regional Hospital prior to her retirement from DBHDD with close to 30 years of dedicated service. In case you don’t know Dr. Lawless, she has served in several leadership roles at the Gracewood Campus.
March was replete with lookbacks and milestone markers acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the events when COVID became “real” for each of us. While we might recognize a different day or a specific moment as the beginning of this new reality, together, we have shared a collective historical experience that was also deeply personal.
On any given day, it’s easy to feel burdened by the weight of the global pandemic, anxious about the uncertainties of COVID-19, and restricted by the limitations it spawned. It’s understandable if you find yourself in a constant cycle of frustration and disappointment.
In a time like this one, it becomes essential to celebrate the moments of hope and joy that break through grim milestones and the feelings of isolation or grief.
Good news can recharge us on our exhausting days and accelerate our optimism. Amidst the challenges that remain pressing and real, we have received good news, and it bears repeating.
For all of us worn down by the events of 2020, the New Year has so far offered little relief. Where we thought we might turn the page from 2020 on January 1, we found the same, tiring tests on our energy and optimism: COVID-19 infection rates soared, our healthcare system reached a new level of overburdened and lines swelled at food banks as Americans continued to suffer through the economic consequences of a global pandemic.
I learned this week that the word of the year for 2020 is “pandemic”—not exactly breaking news. I can certainly acknowledge the power that this pandemic has had over our lives in 2020. And yet I want to offer my own word of the year for 2020, and that word is “hope.” For me, our individual and collective sense of hope has also been a driving force in 2020. As we engage in a very different holiday season than our traditional one, I aim to celebrate this gift of hope.
Hello friends, colleagues and supporters. We seem to have turned the page to fall with the emergence of pumpkins, football and changing leaves. These are reminders that despite the uncertainty that has characterized 2020, elements of our existence roll forward, albeit with new practices and precautions, and new opportunities as well. Conversations with friends, partners and stakeholders that rely on DBHDD and our provider network have challenged me to acknowledge the exhaustion and unpredictability we have experienced, and at the same time embrace the joy of small pleasures and reinvigorate our safety net mission.
As we approach the six-month mark since the “Shelter in Place” order, you may be, like me, experiencing a diverse range of emotions on any given day, or any given hour. In March, many of us presumed we would be “over” this pandemic by now. With eyes wide open, we have come to recognize that “over” and “past” are probably not the right words to capture our understanding of COVID-19. Multiple elements of daily life for our staff, providers and the people we serve have been fundamentally altered and we have been challenged to adapt almost everything we do.