As psychiatrists, we attend to the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric
illnesses and the numerous barriers to care that patients encounter that
prevent them from getting well. Increasingly, we are now focusing attention on
what is the most important phase of illness to our patients: recovery. APA's
Institute on Psychiatric Services will do just that this fall by holding a
festive gala known as Celebration Recovery in which people who have struggled
with mental illness, along with their friends and relatives, will come
together with psychiatrists and others attending the institute, as well as
representatives of numerous San Diego provider and advocacy groups.
This extraordinary and unprecedented event at the institute will be held on
Saturday, October 8, in the Grande Ballroom of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel
and Marina. The free, four-hour celebration will feature music, games,
inspirational talks, dancing, food, and information booths.
Celebration Recovery is being presented by the Irwin Foundation in
collaboration with APA. The Irwin Foundation, which receives sponsorship from
a wide array of private, public, and voluntary entities, develops programs to
further the vision of recovery from psychiatric illness and develops
recovery-focused workshops and symposia.
Celebration Recovery highlights an emerging concept in psychiatry that
emphasizes person-centeredness, respect, responsibility, hope, choice, quality
of life, consumer and family agency and empowerment, self-help, partnership,
diversity, and community inclusiveness.
A Celebration Recovery event was held at the NAMI convention in June in
Austin, Texas. Courtesy of the Irwin Foundation
Recovery from mental disorders should be an expectation, yet the reality of
recovery is too often contradicted by stigma, disempowerment, diminished
expectations, custodial care instead of active treatment, and pervasive
The recovery vision is increasingly informing mainstream psychiatric
initiatives. The 2003 report of the President's New Freedom Commission on
Mental Health called for a recovery-focused, consumer- and family-driven
transformation of mental health care in America, such that "adults with
serious mental illness and children with severe emotional disturbance [can]
live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities."
The vision of recovery has been adopted by most public mental health
authorities. In December 2004, more than 100 leaders, including mental health
and addiction recovery experts, consumers and families, advocates, community
and state officials, national association staff, and public officials, joined
forces at the consensus conference "Mental Health Recovery and Systems
Transformation," sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration. Its goal was to define recovery, reach a consensus on
its key principles and elements, and identify recovery implementation
strategies that work.
In line with these developments and reflecting its leadership role, APA has
chosen "Recovery and the Community" as the theme for the 2005
institute. The institute will offer three plenary sessions and numerous
workshops and symposia on the theme.
The Irwin Foundation was created in honor of Irwin B., who had a severe
mental illness. While he eventually benefited from treatment advances,
enabling him to end a relentless cycle of hospitalizations, he continued to
struggle with stigma and nonacceptance. The foundation is designed to
commemorate his courage and determination to eliminate stigma and to create a
better future for those recovering from mental illness.
Since 2001, the Irwin Foundation has held Celebration Recovery events
across the country, including most recently at the 2005 convention of the
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Austin (see