Whose Recovery Is This?! Helping Families Heal


Last night I had the privilege of attending my first Family Den with other Mother Bears like myself—parents, spouses, siblings and adult children. All of us have family members who have experienced mental health challenges. All of us had a story to tell.

By the end of the evening, we all left feeling hopeful and energized. I realized how much I wished I had access to a group like this 20 years ago, when I first realized my daughter was in distress.

In our Family Den, everyone acknowledged that the support of other families who had shared similar experiences was critical for their family’s recovery. We all confessed this kind of support has been hard to find. We have all experienced feelings of isolation. We have all been confused about our role in recovery.

At CooperRiis, the healing community I cofounded with my husband, we talk to families every day who are surprised to learn recovery from severe emotional distress is an option, much less an expected outcome.

When families don’t even know recovery is possible, we’ve got a BIG problem.

In our fragmented mental health care system, most of us learn about recovery by trial and error. Some never learn about it at all. If we’re lucky, families learn about and create recovery together by sharing our stories, our strategies and the life lessons we’ve learned.

This is why we founded Mother Bear Community Action Network—to provide a place where hope is real, families are supported and recovery for every family member is expected.

I look forward to sharing more about our international family-led network and our family recovery stories here on this blog.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a story about a family that was shanghaied in recovery until they learned that letting go with love can be an opportunity for every family member to grab on to a life worth living.

Until then, I’ll close with the affirmation we shared in our Family Den.

We come together to support and remind each other that recovery is expected. Family support is an integral part of recovery. We acknowledge that while we cannot recover for someone else, we can recover ourselves and, in turn, nurture the flame of hope in others.

You can join the discussion and our growing community families on our new website www.MotherBearCAN.org (where you will find more stories of hope and healing).

As one discussion forum participant recently said, “HOPE is a game changer.”

Yes, it is.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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