The Robley Rex VA’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center for Veterans living with severe mental illness recently celebrated its first graduates in the program.
After more than a year in the program, Nigel Tucker, Tracey Taylor and Christopher Pompa celebrated the end of a demanding mental health recovery curriculum designed to provide Veterans like them with skills to reengage in building relationships and interacting in their greater communities.
Also known as the Phoenix Empowerment Center, the program began in August 2019 and offers patients opportunities to participate in mental health skills groups with clinical providers and peer support specialists.
Celebrating the end of mental health recovery program
The program has 32 participants who are referred by their VA provider. According to Dr. Tina Brown, program coordinator, the goal is to provide an option to any Veteran suffering from serious mental health issues.
A powerful tool in VA’s mission
“While today is our very first graduation, we have plans to grow this program,” Brown said. “We currently have two clinicians, two peer support specialists, an individual recovery coach, and a music therapist. They provide 15 hours of training each week to program participants. As more success stories are created like today’s graduates, the program will become an increasingly powerful tool in VA’s mission to normalize the way mental health is provided and the way it’s perceived.
In addition to mental health recovery groups, the curriculum emphasizes the development of cognitive behavioral skills, coping and recovery skills, social skills, relaxation and stress management.
It also covers employment, volunteerism, health education and wellness, illness and medication management, music therapy, spirituality, and specific strategies to accomplish goals.
Graduation coincided with Mental Illness Awareness Week
“Mental Illness Awareness Week is a time dedicated to increasing people’s understanding about mental health and confront stigma related to receiving mental health care,” Brown said. “Awareness events, like today’s graduation, take place across the country during this week to remind us that our mental health is important…and that recovery is possible. Today’s graduation is a testament to a lot of hard work from our graduates and the staff. Hearing the testimonies from our graduates today and how this journey has changed their lives strengthens why this treatment is critical for our Veterans.”