DFWHC Foundation Blog: The Evolution of Discussing Mental Health

Blog by Jen Miff, President of the DFW Hospital Council Foundation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) points out that words matter. Removing the stigma frequently associated with mental and behavioral health is one of the great joys of our work at the DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation.

One specific evolution is recognizing both substance and non-substance abuse disorders as diagnosed conditions. Until recently, the term “addiction” did not even appear in any version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. In the most recent edition, addiction is not only included as a category, the manual recognizes both substance and non-substance use disorders as key areas for treatment.

Thank goodness today these negative or punitive assumptions are beginning to fall by the wayside. At the DFWHC Foundation, we like to think we’ve played a continuing role in this evolution by improving the way we recognize and help people manage mental and behavioral health conditions.

Here at the DFWHC Foundation, creating awareness and eliminating dated clichés is one of the inspirations of our 2021 “Recovery 101” classes. Our second event was held April 25 and we received rave reviews from attendees. We have a third webinar scheduled for June 27. Overall, we plan to host six classes this year.

Working with UT Southwestern Medical Center, the Association of Persons Affected by Addiction and the National Alliance of Mental Illness North Texas, the program educates participants about the key concepts of mental health and addiction recovery.

Some of the comments we received after the April 25 meeting were inspiring. One attendee said, “It took a long time for me to realize, certain diagnoses did not tell my whole story.” One person noted, “I now realize, getting help is the first step to recovery.”

These classes are considered peer-support education and are led by Dr. Joseph Guillory, psychiatrist at UT Southwestern; and Joe Powell, CEO of the Dallas Association of Persons Affected by Addiction.

We hope these “Recovery 101” classes will assist in removing the stigma attached to mental and behavioral health. As our team has personally learned from these classes, language, knowledge and empathy are so important to promote sustainable and lasting recovery. We hope you can join us for our “Recovery 101” webinar on June 27.