Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Promoting Wellness

A few weeks ago our president-elect, Marie Paxson, attended a U.S. Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) conference on promoting wellness for persons with mental illness. The conference is developing a national plan, vision, and pledge for promoting wellness for persons with mental illness. Components of wellness include optimal health, happiness, recovery, and a full and satisfying life. CHADD will be involved in this promotion.

A major objective of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health is the promotion of "recovery" from mental illness. During the coming months CHADD will begin, with our professional advisory board and adults with AD/HD, to conceptualize the application of the "recovery" philosophy to AD/HD. In 2006, CMHS defined "mental health recovery" as "a journey of healing and transformation enabling a person with a mental health problem to live a meaningful life in a community of his or her choice while striving to achieve his or her full potential."

Even though we are overwhelmed with preparing for our annual conference—including taking a thousand people to the U.S. Congress to discuss the reality and meaning of AD/HD—celebrating our 20 years with many of the CHADD Hall of Fame scientists, and including this year a special track for teachers, our communications staff is working on the December Attention magazine. One of the articles discusses the CHADD teen program with the U.S. Golf Association and Professional Golfers Association to teach teens to play golf, in order to promote fun, self-esteem, as well as dealing with the symptoms of AD/HD. This is an effort to promote wellness.

This coming Sunday, a member of CHADD’s national board of directors—Rob Tudisco—will participate in the Washington, DC Marine Corps Marathon. Rob is running under a CHADD banner to raise funds for the CHADD Matt Cohen Membership Support Fund. In his New York community, Rob is also organizing a running program for children with AD/HD. Here is another effort to promote wellness.

This past weekend my wife and I participated in fall parents' weekend at our son’s school. Andrew just turned 17. One of the topics we discussed was Andrew's participation in a July 2008 school-based summer program. For the past two years CHADD has been fortunate to have corporate support to operate a summer camp scholarship program, in order to promote happiness, skills, and wellness. A previous CEO blog (July 5, 2007) discussed the value of summer programs. A school-based summer program is based on the assumption of the "cycle of regression of skills," both academic and social, while beginning to deal with vocational and independent living skill development. For many kids with special needs, a three-month summer lacking structured support results in loss of learned skills. A structured six-week program, in the middle of the three months of summer, at a school location with friends and known faculty, is intended to continue consistency in academic and social development, while having fun—another example of promoting wellness.

Many of you know that Andrew and I love baseball. During the past year, we made three trips to see professional baseball, including to spring training. We bond through this enjoyment and it promotes our wellness.

Raising a child with special needs is a challenge. We have the professional treatment needs. We have educational support and accommodation needs. We need a healthy and stable array of community supports, such as family, community, and for many of us, faith communities. We need activities to promote wellness and a few examples are described here. CHADD will continue to promote wellness, including safe and secure environments and good healthy nutrition, as we also advocate professional and school-based supports.

I hope to see many of you at our annual conference. I am pleased to report that, as of today, in the number of registrations we are ahead of last year at this point in time, and CHADD's 20th anniversary conference should be exciting and fun.


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