Woodlands Behavioral Health Network celebrates nationwide recovery initiative in September

Published 10:32 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

CASSOPOLIS — In front of Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network on M-60 is the organization’s green sign, which is outlined with a gold border. The sign is about shoulder high and is unspectacular, except during the month of September when it is decorated with some flair: a purple ribbon.

The ribbon represents support for the 29th annual National Recovery Month, which promotes the message the behavioral health is essential to overall health. This year’s theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.

“It’s education,” said Bob Weber, Woodland’s director of substance use disorders. “We’re trying to get the information out there that folks who suffer from behavioral health disorders, substance abuse disorders specifically, can recover. That treatment and options are available for people out there.”

There have been millions of people whose lives were changed for the better through recovery, but the successes often go unnoticed, according to RecoveryMonth.gov. This is a stark contrast from when someone beats cancer, which is rightfully rejoiced and celebrated.

Weber said that this has something to do with a stigma that surrounds substance abuse disorders and other behavioral disorders that often prevents those who suffer from them from seeking helpful treatments.

For instance, when people develop severe rashes or have heart issues, he said that they tend to immediately go to the doctor and undergo necessary treatments, but when it is a behavioral issue, they tend to think that it is something they can or should overcome on their own.

“People have more shame in getting help with a substance abuse disorder or a behavior disorder because it’s not as obvious as it is with the physical illness,” he said. 

National Recovery Month aims to do more than just reach those who are directly impacted by a behavioral health disorder. Its purpose is to educate everyone.

“A lot of folks think that it’s a choice and that it’s not a disorder,” Weber said. “That people are willfully going out there and using substances and they should know better. Or perhaps [people assume] it only affects certain segments of the population, when, in fact, it’s an equal opportunity disorder. It’s anyone from any walk of life.”

This is why Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network encourages all members of the community to visit — no matter their socioeconomic background.

“We’re a treatment provider, so we’re here to provide outpatient treatment services to folks that struggle with these disorders, but I also like to look at us as a resource,” Weber said. “If members of the community want to just call us and have some question, clinicians will be available to give out information, and things of that nature.”

One aspect of substance abuse disorders that he said most people don’t realize is that alcohol is by far the most abused item, not illegal substances such as methamphetamine or heroin.

He said that this can make it even more difficult for people to seek treatment because drinking alcohol is a social activity, and people assume they should be able to handle it responsibly like other people they interact with.

“Culturally, it’s acceptable,” he said. “You can go to the movie theater and buy it now.”

People who struggle with mental health disorders are encouraged to call or visit Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network at 960 M-60 East in Cassopolis.

Weber said that one way they help people recover from behavioral health disorders is by giving them the tools to improve all aspects of their lives.

We will encourage you to get well in your emotional life, your relational life, your spiritual life, your physical health as well. Recovery is getting well in all areas, and we incorporate that. One of the emphasis is this integrated concept of wellness, which is part of this years theme.

One way members of the community can help show their support for those is to tie a purple ribbon somewhere in the front yard.

“Go to the store, get some purple ribbons and spread them around,” Webber said. “It gets that message out. If one person knows about National Recovery Month and they see that ribbon, it might give them some hope and inspire them a little bit. You never know.”