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Flying Over The Cuckoo’s Nest - Living With Mental Illness…Recovery IS Possible!


The inaugural post of Flying Over The Cuckoo’s Nest , posted earlier this week, was written by one of our members. Telling one’s story has long been an effective way of getting people’s attention. Of letting them know that most people with a mental illness are really just like they are. They just happen to have a disease. A treatable disease. And it’s not contagious.

Here in Lawrence, the Recovery and Hope Network, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, has been serving people in Douglas County with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) since 2004. That means we’re helping people with diagnoses like bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, severe depression/anxiety, schizophrenia…in other words, the kinds of long term mental illnesses you wouldn’t wish on anyone.

We work closely with Bert Nash, SRS, Independence, Inc., Cottonwood, the community corrections system, the homeless shelter and many more agencies. We provide proven, highly effective mental health support services.

But the chances are you’ve never heard of RAHN (which is pronounced “rain”, by the way.) Heck, we’re the greatest little non-profit no one’s ever heard of!

We operate on a budget the size of a pea, with 80% of our funding coming from SRS. Our staff consists of two part-timers, including me, Kendall Simmons…with the grandiose title of Planning and Development Coordinator…and Randy Puckett, our new Executive Director (an equally grandiose title :-)

RAHN is what’s known as a CRO…a ”consumer run organization”…where the actual consumers of mental health services have a major role in determining the services, activities, and goals of RAHN.

And why are CROs important?

Well, to quote the Kansas SRS website, “CRO's play a key role in providing peer support and self-help to those who experience extreme psychiatric symptoms, and are seeking ways to improve their wellness and recovery. In the ground-breaking report on mental health issued by the U.S. Surgeon General, mutual and self-help were highlighted as a proven method to help people manage and recover from the effects of their psychiatric symptoms.”
< http://www.srskansas.org/hcp/MH/MHRDmhconsumer.htm >

In future posts we’ll talk more about all of this, in both specific and general ways. Right now, though, I want to talk just a bit about why we decided to start this blog…and what we at RAHN hope it does.

First of all, we hope it increases our name recognition.

After all, it’s hard to raise money if no one knows who the heck we are :-) On the other hand, if you’ve gone to the KC Renaissance Festival in the last couple of years and bought funnel cake, you’ve already helped us without even knowing it!

But the main reason is…people with mental illness are everywhere in our lives. They’re not just “those homeless people” or the person walking down the middle of the street wearing nothing but a sheet.

The fact is, there probably isn’t a single one of you who doesn’t know someone with a mental illness. It could be a friend or family member. A coworker or a neighbor.

Or even yourself.

Indeed, 1 in 5 people in the US will experience a mental illness at least once in their lifetime, and 10% of those will suffer from an SPMI (severe and persistent mental illness…remember that term.:-)

Sadly, though, mental illness is still scary. It frightens people. A lot.

So we hope to use this blog to help lessen that fear. To respond to the urban legends and reduce the stigma of mental illness by educating people in an entertaining, informative way.

And to provide hope to people who themselves have, or who have loved ones who have, a mental illness.

Because recovery from mental illness IS possible. And RAHN can help.

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The Recovery and Hope Network (RAHN) is a small yet wildly successful local nonprofit serving people with severe and persistent mental illness in Douglas County. Written by members and staff of RAHN, the purpose of this blog – Flying Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – is to educate people about mental illness and the possibility of recovery, to reduce fear and stigma, and to reach out to those in need and their families and friends, neighbors and coworkers.

1009 New Hampshire, Suites C & D Lawrence, KS 66044 785-856-1222 http://recoveryandhope.org ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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