What Does Reintegration Mean Exactly?
I asked some members of the City Voices editorial board and others what they think is the best way for our peers in the behavioral healthcare communities to become reintegrated into everyday society. It’s a difficult thing to receive a diagnosis for many of us because it can make us feel like damaged goods and that we don’t belong. Here are some of their responses:
Kurt Sass: I only felt one time that I had to reintegrate into everyday society. It was very difficult after being in bed for 11 months, but what did it for me was volunteering. It got me back into socializing with others and feeling back to normal.
Max Guttman: Organic natural connections. Connecting with people outside the bounds of mental health settings. Creating a life that doesn’t revolve around or hinge on your status in the mental health system.
Malissa Vazquez: There’s no clear answer for that. Everyone is unique even though many experience a collective effect when it comes to mental health. It’s all about willpower. Unbiased inclusion is just as important. I see a lot of individuals, whether professional or not, exclude peers simply because they have their own bias. It also helps to remove peers from the topic of mental health or even from the clinical environment and focus more on what it is that we truly enjoy like art, body building, high adrenaline activities…sometimes recovery happens when less time is spent talking about it and more time putting it into action. Clinical professionals work 9-5. After that, we are on our own. Yet, the mind works 24/7.
Michael Nugent: I think peers should be keen to be concerned with the broader problems in their communities and avoid a narrow focus on problems only affecting us. At the same time, I think we should spend time educating our communities about the challenges we face. Kind of the inverse of identity politics. Challenges like stigma, prejudices regarding ability, mass incarceration, poverty, unemployment, early death and more.
Dmitry Gutkovich: I think it’s two parts. One is social, having activities and events that are part peer, part not. The other is being treated like a professional at work and developing the same sorts of professional relationships that all other staff do.
Judith Carrington: From a family member perspective, my dearest hope is that my loved one has a home, a job and finds meaning and purpose in their life, but it’s hard to find purpose and build up your dignity if you don’t have the basics on which to grow.