Speaking openly about mental health and substance misuse

The city of Denver is working to create a culture where people can speak openly about mental health and substance misuse. Last week grantees of Caring for Denver Foundation spoke about their lived experience in a session hosted by Denver City Council Member at Large, Robin Kniech.

✨ Moderator JK Costello talked about how anyone can be in recovery, providing a framework that includes home, health, community, and purpose. 

✨ Keith Hayes, Caring for Denver board member and director of recovery at 5280 High School shared his personal story of recovery and how he regained his sense of dignity through connection and community. Today he’s found purpose in helping kids in Denver recover. 

✨ 18-year-old Christina shared how drugs helped her shake that feeling of being out of place, but led to self-harm. She’s now three years sober, and 5280 High School helped her not only graduate but regain that sense of self-worth. 

✨ Alex shared how he found purpose in recovery, and now serves as a peer support supervisor for the Colorado Support Line. 

✨ Kathleen Quinn shared about trauma’s roots in addition, and how she’s a work in progress, and how she helps her peers through the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership.  

✨ Corinthiah Brown, BA, CAS, RC, is an Acu-Detox Specialist at Don’t Look Back Center. She shared the connection of trauma to her own addiction, including how she’s lost family through addiction. She sees the impacts of generational trauma in her own family. 

The group discussed how hitting “rock bottom” isn’t necessary for recovery, and how recovery is possible for those who want to get sober. But recovery pathways need to be trauma-informed–feeling safe matters. Peer support is paramount. Their stories of recovery and thriving planted seeds of hope and provided pathways to follow. They also helped reduce the stigma and keep them in recovery. 

We are grateful to councilmember Kniech for holding space for conversations that matter to the people of Denver.