I commend the FACE-IT Faith-Based Coalition and Harford County officials for sponsoring last week's Recovery Festival at Aberdeen Festival Park.
Sharing personal experiences and achievements is a vital component of the recovery process. As a social worker with experience in emergency psychiatric services, addictions counseling and mobile treatment, I have seen first hand the devastating impact of mental illness and substance abuse on families, as well as the hope and promise of recovery. We should be proud of our community's efforts to support individuals in recovery.
Too many people are still unaware; however, that recovery is not limited to substance abuse alone. Recovery from mental health concerns is also achievable. At Alliance, Inc., we believe that people with mental illness can and do recover. Prevention works and mental health issues can be treated, just like other health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.
According to data on homelessness collected by the Harford County Department of Community Services, fully 70 percent of individuals surveyed reported a mental health problem, while 18 and 12 percent, respectively, reported alcohol or drug abuse. Nationally, 25.7 percent of all adults with serious mental illness also struggle with addiction. Treatment for mental illness and substance abuse includes not only access to quality medical care services, including medications and therapy, but also full community support to assist with housing, income and employment, social needs and developing the necessary skills to live well.
As a long-time provider of community behavioral health services in Harford County, Alliance plays a critical role in helping people with mental health conditions and/or substance use achieve recovery. One of Alliance's programs provides services directly in the detention center and through a jail diversion program in the court system. Alliance case managers work within the school system to ensure children with emotional disorders have access to care and services designed to promote resilience and success. The Alliance Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team provides wrap around supports and services to individuals not connected traditional services. These services include vocational services, nursing supports, medication management, substance abuse treatment and housing.
Alliance operates a housing program for those looking to develop the skills and supports to help them live successfully in the community as well as a psychiatric rehabilitation program for adults and children. The full array of Alliance services also includes an outpatient mental health clinic in Bel Air.
The road to recovery may be difficult, but the benefits of preventing and overcoming mental illness and substance use are significant and valuable to individuals, families, and communities. People in recovery achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, while contributing in positive ways to their communities. They also prove to family members, friends, and others that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.
Jennifer Greenspun, LCSW-C
Director, Alliance, Inc.
Assertive Community Treatment and Targeted Case Management