Reach Out. Connect. Belong.

Stories of Recovery

Click HERE to view inspiring stories of connection and recovery.

Community Guidelines

In Hancock County no person is expendable.

Download our Community Position Paper.

Language Matters

Stigmatizing language reinforces negative stereotypes. Person-first language focuses on the person, not the disorder.

Learn more about Language Matters.

Messaging Toolkit

Download the We All Know Someone Messaging Toolkit.


Stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorder continues to exist, but it can be eliminated with awareness, education, and empathy. Here are some points to remember:

  • One in four Americans have been affected by mental illness at some point in their life.
  • Organizations such as NAMI Hancock County and FOCUS Recovery & Wellness Center offer education about mental illness and substance use disorder. Local providers such as A Renewed Mind and Family Resource Center offer effective treatment options to help people manage their symptoms and begin a journey to recovery.
  • Share with others important information you have about mental illness and substance use disorder to dispel myths, misunderstanding, and false information about people with a mental illness or substance use disorder diagnosis.


It can be very difficult to see a loved one struggle with symptoms of mental illness or substance abuse. Not knowing how to help someone can create anxiety. However, one of the most important things you can do is to simply start a conversation with them. You do not have to be an expert or have all the answers.

Express your concern and willingness to listen and be there for them. Reassure them that you care deeply about them. Show patience and listen without judgment of their thoughts and actions. Honor their feelings and challenges.

Encourage them to talk with a mental health care provider, substance use treatment provider, or even a primary care physician. Remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength.


“Belonging is more than just feeling included, in a legitimate democracy, belonging means that your well-being is considered and your ability to design and give meaning to its structures and institutions is realized.”

– john a. powell, Othering & Belonging Institute

A need to belong is what drives people to seek stable, long-lasting relationships. It also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations.

When we create space for belonging, we uphold the dignity of humanity for all.


Research has shown hope is a robust predictor of mental health. Not only does it make life more enjoyable, experts say, but hope also provides resilience against things like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Hope is important because it reduces feelings of helplessness, increases happiness, reduces stress, and improves our quality of life. Hope can offer chemical benefits too, in the form of endorphins and lowered stress levels, things, experts say, make people more productive.

Hope can be a desire for something to happen, a wish for things to change for the better, or a particular dream or aspiration. It is important for us to have hope in our lives, important for us to look positively into our future and is a major protective factor in helping us tackle potentially dangerous ideation or intrusive thoughts. Hope is also a very personal thing and it is important not measure your goals influenced by others. Your aspirations are personal and important to you.


When you are resilient, you harness inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster, or a loved one’s death. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.

Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life, and better handle stress. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop skills to become more resilient.

Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.

Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.

Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your future behavior.

Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.

Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.

Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.

(Source credit: The Mayo Clinic)


Allow yourself to feel all kinds of emotions. Give yourself permission to feel the way that you feel, even if it is uncomfortable. Go easy on yourself and give it time.

Talk about how you are feeling. Give yourself an opportunity to address how you are feeling and encourage family, friends, and coworkers to do the same.

Be patient. You may feel out of sync with your family members, coworkers, or peers. Going back to work during a global pandemic isn’t just an adjustment for you – it is an adjustment for everyone.

Know when to seek help. If you are feeling stress – either physical or emotional – seek help as soon as possible.

Focus on the positive. Tell others that you are proud of them and you appreciate them. Tell yourself that, too!