Focus on mental health

Love, Hope and Acceptance in Recovery provides speakers, workshops, resources on mental health, substance use disorders

Dr. Kristin Rousch, Ph.D., speaks to attendees of the Love, Hope and Acceptance in Recovery Conference Tuesday morning at the Holiday Inn. The conference, which was funded by a grant from the Northcare Network, aimed to provide education and resources on mental health and substance abuse disorders for the public, as well as professionals. Attendees were able to hear speakers such as Rousch, as well as participate in a variety of workshops during the all-day conference Tuesday. It was the 13th annual conference held, organizers said, noting that they had a record-breaking turnout for Tuesday’s conference. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — Individuals and professionals from across the state gathered together last Tuesday at Marquette’s Holiday Inn for the Love, Hope and Acceptance in Recovery Conference, which had a record-breaking turnout this year.

The 13th annual conference, which is supported by funding from the NorthCare Network, sought to connect attendees with resources and networking opportunities related to care for mental health and substance use disorders, organizers said.

“The aim of this conference is to allow individuals with mental illness (and/or) substance abuse to know that there is recovery,” said Fran McKay, who chaired the conference.

The all-day event featured a variety of speakers and workshops, which covered topics such as mindfulness, healthy eating, armchair exercises, substance use disorders, maintaining recovery, and more.

Through the conference and these events, organizers wanted to make sure those with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders know that they’re not alone — and that there are many resources available.

“It allows a person with mental illness to realize that there are others that deal with the same issues; and that we don’t have to stay stuck in our house, that we can get out, we can do things,” McKay said. “It helps when we have the professionals here too, because they can add comments and help the individuals that are here.”

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Kristin Roush, Ph.D., spoke to conference attendees about how to let go of past trauma, sadness, shame, anger and resentment. This is beneficial for a person’s mental health, she said, as difficult past experiences and emotions can color a person’s “current experience in a way that it doesn’t have to.”

The first step to letting go of something, Roush said, is fully acknowledging the situation, without minimizing it or going in to denial.

Once the situation has been acknowledged, it’s helpful to reflect upon and express your feelings about it, she said.

“Say: ‘What are my feelings?’ You don’t even have to name them, but express them. Express those feelings, get those feelings out,” Roush said. “And by expressing that, it doesn’t always mean talk about it, although talking is good … To express means to get that which is inside, outside. So you can express your feelings in dance, through music.”

After a person has expressed their feelings about a situation, then they can move on to assessing their level of responsibility for the situation, Roush said.

She recommends asking: “Is this a situation where I aggrieved another person, and I’m responsible, I’m at fault? Is this a situation that I’m dealing with where someone has aggrieved me, where I’m the victim? And what are my feelings about that? But in this situation, what am I responsible for around this?”

It’s important to “take responsibility for your contribution to whatever you’re dealing with,” she said, as “many of us make the mistake of taking on too much responsibility; or the opposite, not quite enough.”

Once a person has sorted out their feelings and responsibility related to a situation, it’s time to consider how it can be addressed, Roush said.

“Brainstorm what can you do now about what happened,” Roush said. “And there’s a whole lot of here that you’re not in control of doing; but you can chose to make amends, you can chose to apologize. You can chose to do nothing, as long as your choice to do nothing is consciously made.”

Once a person has made a plan to deal with a situation, there’s one final, but very significant step, Roush said: “Let it go already.”

“The most important step at the very end — after you’ve done all of that good work — is to then let it go. “ she said. “Lighten your load. Let go of that stockpile of those feelings.”

Even after “letting it go,” it’s still important to take a regular inventory of feelings and make sure that things aren’t “stockpiling,” Roush said, as it’s “going to be easiest if you address it now rather than wait til later.”

Overall, conference organizers want the community to know that there are resources and support out there – and that no one should be afraid to come forward and ask for help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free crisis line that can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

For more information on the lifeline, visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

To learn more about Roush and her work, visit https://www.movedandshaken.com/.