Classes to focus on mental health crisis recovery

Course to focus on preparing for, handling mental illnesses

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 11:41 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A class next month at the McHenry County PADS day center in Woodstock aims to equip those struggling with mental illness with an action plan should a crisis arise.

The eight-week mental health recovery course will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. each Saturday beginning Jan. 11 at the day center, located at 14411 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock.

The program highlights Wellness Recovery Action Planning, which is recognized as an evidence-based practice by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Dick Peterson, a state-certified recovery support specialist with Pioneer Center for Human Services, Homeless Services – McHenry County PADS, is teaching the course. Peterson also writes a weekly column for the Northwest Herald.

“I was hospitalized four or five times in the early 2000s and was unaware of this program because it was not introduced in the state at that time,” said Peterson, who suffers from mental illness. “If I would have known about action planning then, I probably wouldn’t have been hospitalized as many times because I would have had more control over my mental well-being.”

Those who take part in the class, which is broken down into eight sections, are given a three-ring binder and asked to create their own action plans to help them maintain wellness and promote recovery.

The focus of the class is to prevent things from snowballing and getting worse for people struggling with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety.

“The foundational principles of the class are based on hope, spirituality, education, personal responsibility, self advocacy and support,” Peterson said. “People develop wellness toolboxes – things that you can do if you have a triggering event happen to help you get through it.”

Other highlights of the course include creating action plans for triggers, early warning signs and when things appear to be getting worse.

“The whole purpose is to avoid slipping into a crisis,” Peterson said. “You develop action plans to try and rein in those things that are breaking down to return to a level of wellness and health where you feel better.”

The practice is endorsed and promoted by the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health, and is based on the work of mental health advocate Mary Ellen Copeland.

Participants must be at least 18 years old and the class is limited to 10 people.

To register or for more information, call 815-759-7287 or email rpeterson@pioneercenter.org.

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