The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors September as National Recovery Month in order to raise awareness and understanding of mental and substance abuse disorders and celebrate those who recover. The observance also reinforces the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health.
In its 27th year, the theme for National Recovery Month 2016 is Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery. The theme is meant to highlight the value of family support and invite individuals in recovery and their family members to share personal stories and successes encouraging others.
Recovery Month began in 1989 under the name Treatment Works! and was meant to honor the work of substance use treatment professionals in the field. It became National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in 1998, expanding to include celebrating the accomplishment of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. Finally, it evolved again in 2011 to include all aspects of behavioral health.
Some past themes include Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal Valuable! (2015), Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out (2014), Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness (2013), Join the Voices for Recovery: It’s Worth It (2012) and Join the Voices for Recovery: Recovery Benefits Everyone (2011).
This year, the SUNY New Paltz Athletic Department is taking initiative to raise awareness and promote positive mental and behavioral health. The initiative is called Athletes Together and it was inspired by the University of Michigan’s Athletes Connected.
“When you are here as a student, everyone always says that your team becomes your family,” said Athletic Director Stuart Robinson. “As a teammate, you want to be there for your teammate, you want them to feel comfortable, you want them to be successful, you want them to know that somebody cares about them.”
The student-athletes involved are tasked first with giving the department a better sense of the prevelant issues within the athletic community and the rest of the campus community as a whole. From there, educating students on how to handle these issues when they arise and what the right questions are to ask as opposed to asking no questions.
“Over the years we’ve seen signs that student-athletes were struggling, not to the point that they couldn’t function, but with certain behaviors that they weren’t always themselves and people feeling frustrated because they didn’t know what to do to help their friends,” Robinson said. “I think that battle between being a friend and encouraging an individual to seek help really began to unnerve some people.”
The committee is comprised of about 24 student-athletes and five campus administrators that will be involved on some level, but very well could grow. The program is still in the developing and coordinating stages as they continue to collect information, but hopes to start picking up speed by the end of next week according to Robinson.
OASIS and HAVEN are two student support services on campus. They are student staffed and supervised by the Psychological Counseling Center. They are located on the bottom floor of Deyo Hall and their office hours are from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. every day. Their hotline is also available during these hours at 845-257-4945.
OASIS provides confidential crisis intervention in areas such as suicidal ideation, depression, relationship issues, roommate hassles, academic stress and loneliness. Students can also call them for information and referrals on drugs and drug identification, sexual issues and related diseases and campus and community services.
Peer volunteers at HAVEN are trained to respond to issues around rape, sexual assault, other unwanted sexual experiences and relationship violence.
As far as resources available off campus, Open Arms Area holds Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings in four Hudson Valley counties: Orange, Ulster, Sullivan and Dutchess. NA was founded in 1953 and meetings in Hudson Valley, NY started in the early ‘80s. All meetings are open to anyone seeking freedom from active addiction. Visit openarmsarea.com or call 1-800-498-5224 for more information.