Perry Wellness Center was recently host to three days of training by the RESPECT Institute of Georgia. The Institute provides a unique environment in which peers are taught how to share their own stories of dealing with mental illness and, more importantly, their stories of recovery.
Founder Joel Slack and Jen Banathy, Coordinator of the RESPECT Institute of Georgia, provided the three-day seminar to a group of peers and also provided a facilitation opportunity for two peers who had previously this course. In the future, they will be able to provide training to others.
Slack created the Institute to offer a new way of looking at mental illness and the recovery experience. He noted that professionals were often the ones trying to convince the community to accept those with mental illness. But when those affected by mental illness shared their own stories, the message was much more effective. To date, the RESPECT Institute Seminar has been presented to over 300,000 persons around the world.
During last week’s seminar, participating peers were helped to explore their family backgrounds, life experiences, and ways of coping with adversity, including mental illness. Participants focus on creating, writing down, and then presenting personal accounts of their struggles and triumphs. In the process, they gain insights into many of their life habits and coping mechanisms.
On Thursday, November 5, a graduation ceremony was held in the Perry Wellness Center classroom building. Stuart Perry welcomed the group and introduced Joel Slack and Jen Banathy. Then five peers, who had been nominated by other participants, presented their personal stories of childhood trauma, lifetime struggles, and turning points in their personal recovery.
Jen Banathy observed, “I see recovery here at Perry Wellness Center. It is alive and well.” Peers, staff, family members, and other invitees listened with rapt attention to each story and applauded the efforts of all participants.
In the above photo, RESPECT Institute graduates pose with their certificates. Graduates include: Michelle M., McArthur T., Angela S., Dorothy S., Javin B., Camry C., Bradon D., Douglas K., Brandon T., Nate T., Daisy B., James B., and Bradford C.