“Recovery is possible. People with mental illnesses and addictive diseases can live satisfying, productive lives in the community when they have the treatments and support they need,” said Wainscott, who is a member of Behavioral and Emotional Health Resources, which is a subcommittee of Bartow Health Access. “In the past — we’re talking my mother’s generation — people with illnesses like schizophrenia [and] bipolar disorder just got stuffed into state hospitals. And I think of it as being stored there. They just literally were stored in state hospitals. We’ve come so far from that time.
“Effective treatments exist. ... [But] two things have to happen for [recovery] to happen. We have to have those treatments and services available — and the Behavioral and Emotional Health Resources group is working really hard to get those services in place in Bartow County. And then the second thing that has to happen is people have to believe that they can get better and their loved ones have to believe that they can get better. Self-determination is a word we use a lot. People who have these illnesses, when they have control of their lives and the things they need to support them, can choose the path that brings them fully back into society. And we are determined to create the path for that to happen here.”
Along with Wainscott, the rally will feature two other speakers: Neil Kaltenecker, executive director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, and Sherry Jenkins Tucker, executive director of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. To be held in the Stiles Auditorium at 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville — the corner of Cherokee Avenue and School Street — the event will be presented from noon to 3 p.m. In addition to the scheduled speakers, the rally also will offer live music, T-shirts, food, artwork for sale, representatives for Briggs & Associates Inc. and literature about Bartow County’s Peer Support, Wellness and Respite Center.
“September is National Recovery Month for SAMHSA — the Substance Abuse and Mental Health organization from the federal level,” said James Guffey, director of the local Peer Support, Wellness and Respite Center. “And we wrote a grant to be able to have recovery rallies at all three of our centers. We have one in Cleveland, one in Decatur and then one here. ... It’s for the community.
“It’s a celebration for people that are in recovery [from substance abuse or mental health challenges], who are choosing the life that they want. The biggest thing for us is to show that recovery is possible, that anybody can recover. ... The main thing about it is showing recovery in action and showing that there’s this great peer support movement where people who have similar challenges are able to support each other in the recovery journey.”
Located at 201 N. Erwin St. in Cartersville, the Peer Support, Wellness and Respite Center is operated by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and funded through a contract with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. The free services provided are for people 18 and older, who acknowledge that they have a mental health illness or substance abuse problem and want to move forward in their recovery. Along with peer support and wellness activities, the center also provides a complimentary respite program.
“We’re an alternative to traditional mental health services,” Guffey said. “It’s peer support. So we’re able to support people in three different ways at this center. [We have] wellness activities throughout the day that people can choose to come to or not come to. We also have a warm [phone] line that operates 24 hours, seven days a week.
“And we also have respite, which [consists of] three rooms and that’s where people can stay up to seven nights. It’s used to avoid a psychiatric hospitalization or if they just have challenges, like [for] some people if substance abuse is a challenge sometimes they come in here and detox. They use respite for what they need it for.”
For more information about the Peer Support, Wellness and Respite Center, call 770-276-2019, which also serves as the organization’s 24-hour warm line.