As people with lived experience in the mental health and substance abuse services system we seek to empower our peers. To use our voices to educate, inform and inspire new leaders in our community. We will bring new and innovative ideas to the recovery processes for the benefit of all.
- As peers using lived experience we will teach and lead other peers to advocate for themselves
- As peers we will create and lead innovations in recovery
- As peers we will strive to eliminate stigma through education of the public around mental health challenges
We live in a world where everything evolves, our society, our technology, how we live and how we interact. The mental health and addiction services system has changed a lot in our lifetimes and now it is evolving again. Recovery Innovations for Pursuing Peer Leadership and Empowerment (RIPPLE) is made up of people with lived experience with mental illness and who have received services from mental health providers.
Starting in the 1800’s it became common practice to lock up people who were thought to be mentally defective or who had thoughts that were different from the general public (inventors, artists, performers, gays or lesbians, people who spoke out against politicians, sad persons, persons with epilepsy, women who read books, women who did not obey their husbands to name just a few). Some of these patients were actually chained to their beds or floor and underwent treatments such as day-long locked cold baths, electroshock therapy, solitary rooms and other traumatizing treatments and medications with severe detrimental side effects.
As late as the 1970’s thousands of people living with mental illness were still subject to dehumanizing practices and were housed in unsanitary conditions. Some were even used as lab rats, exposed to deadly strains of different viruses without their consent. This was done all for the sake of research testing to ascertain the effectiveness of new and existing vaccines. The Willowbrook State School, one of the most famous accounts of these atrocities was reported by Geraldo Rivera who at the time was an investigative reporter for ABC News.
Today after many changes and improvements the world of psychotherapy is starting to take stock of reports that determine that there has been no significant improvement in the results from even modern-day traditional treatments. The newer concept of peer support and peer-led therapies do seem to be more effective and have longer lasting positive results.
In 2016, the CDC released a statement that 50% of all Americans would have a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Another report estimates that more than 50% of people receiving disability benefits in the United States will be living with mental illness by the year 2020. Faced with the fact that the system cannot currently keep up with demand even professionals are admitting that peer support will play a huge part in the next evolution in the mental health system.
Peers now know we have the power to create positive change not only in our recovery but also in the recovery of others. We seek to educate and empower other peers by validating their existence as essential to keeping our world turning. Our peers are some of the most innovative problem solvers, communicators and truly wonderful people on this earth.