Recovery concepts promote that people with mental health and addiction difficulties can improve their lives. Recovery is a process, not an end. It involves factors such as: hope, personal responsibility, knowledge and supports. Newer medications provide more effective symptom management with fewer side effects. While working as a case manager, I noticed that everyone was talking about recovery, but no one was offering the tools and support to achieve recovery. Case managers and therapists had neither the time nor the expertise to teach necessary life skills.
Recognizing an important unmet need, Steve Harrington, who was involved with the Boston University Center for Psychosocial Rehabilitation, and Michael Roaleen, a mental health advocate proposed the establishment of the Recovery Academy in 2008.
The Recovery Academy (RA) would create a curriculum to teach self-improvement and life skills, and it would provide a supportive environment for recovery. RA is open to anyone in the community, on a self-referral basis with no cost to the individual and staffed by Certified Peer Support Specialists. What distinguishes educational organizations such as the RA from other organizations are two primary features: 1) a model that is fully peer operated and 2) dedication to recovery education. The combination of these two components have proven to be highly successful in helping people with psychiatric conditions start or move forward on their recovery journeys.
RA operated until 2014 when budget constraints and restrictions on services threatened its closing. All appeared lost. Fortunately, Bob Grooters of Robert Grooters Development Company liked the work we were doing and vowed to keep the doors open. He arranged funding from Doug Meijer and the Meijer Foundation. We are forever grateful for their support. With this change, we have prospered. We moved from Leonard and Front Street to the Ferguson Building; We give a warm thanks to the Mental Health Foundation for their willingness to share space.
Our weekly attendance tripled from 40 per week to 120 and we are addressing many needs including improving self knowledge, employment, financial literacy, and homeless prevention.
We have a welcoming environment and offer hope, as well as the opportunity to help others.