Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2017

Julie Naughton, Public Information Officer, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-1695 or (cell) 402-405-7202,
Nebraskans Recognize Behavioral Health Recovery


Note: sound bites on this topic are available:

LINCOLN— Just as people with physical health conditions can recover, so can people with behavioral health or substance use disorders. That’s the message of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), especially during September, which is National Recovery Month.

During Recovery Month, DHHS aims to decrease the stigma often associated with behavioral health disorders, increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use issues, celebrate the people who recover, and acknowledge the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

“September serves to recognize and empower people who have changed their health by actively working on recovery from their mental illness or substance use disorder,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “September can also provide an opportunity to share the hope of recovery.  It is critical that people experiencing mental illness and/or substance use disorders receive the support and treatment they need.”

In the context of healthcare, recovery means a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness to reach their full potential.

“Before finding recovery, I felt ashamed and disconnected from everything,” said Tommy Newcombe, a consumer specialist for Region 4 Behavioral Health Services in Norfolk.  “Recovery Month gives me the chance to speak up and stand up against shame, to be a part of the world again.”

Recovery Month 2017 events in Nebraska include:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 6 - Nebraska State Capital, Lincoln, 10 am: Governor’s proclamation ceremony, including a Recovery Month proclamation
  • Friday, Sept. 8 – Yanney Park, Kearney, 8 pm: Light Up the Night Mental Health Awareness Walk/Run, Richard Young, 308-865-2234 for more information
  • Saturday, Sept. 9 – Norfolk Recovery Rally, 923 East Norfolk Ave. (Sunrise Place), Norfolk, 11 am to 2 pm: 5K Recovery run in Norfolk Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health, will be the keynote speaker, and a fair with food, games, music and educational booths will also be held.
  • Saturday, Sept. 16 - Mental Health Association of Nebraska, 6300 A Street, Lincoln, 1 pm to 4 pm: Stomp the Stigma Talent Show auditions
  • Sunday, Sept. 17 - Elmwood Park & Pavilion, 802 S. 60th St., Omaha, time TBD: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Cares Picnic Event.
  • Sunday, Sept. 17 - The Bridge Behavioral Health, 721 K St., Lincoln, 11 am to 1 pm: Pancake breakfast to celebrate individuals in recovery and at noon a march to the capitol to bring awareness to the issue of addiction.
  • Monday, Sept. 25 - Mental Health Association of Nebraska, 1200 South 40th Street, Lincoln, 4 pm to 8 pm: Annual spaghetti feed to support wellness recovery action planning groups in schools, teacher education, and outreach services.
  • Friday, Sept.29 - Division of Behavioral Health Lincoln Regional Center, 801 W. Prospector Place, Lincoln, 11 am to 1 pm: The Lincoln Regional Center is sponsoring the Beards Against Stigma, “Grow to Be Stigma Free” event at LRC for the 8th annual Mental Health Awareness Week Walk This co-promotion features a fun activity in support of the LRC & NAMI StigmaFree Initiative. Beginning Sept. 1, persons working at LRC and Whitehall and those receiving services will be challenged to grow a beard to support StigmaFree LRC. There will be a shave booth set up at the walk on Sept. 29th for those who took the beard challenge.
  • Saturday, Sept.30 - Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Omaha, 9 am to 10 am: Seventh annual Hands Across the Bridge for Recovery: Attendees will hold hands, forming a human chain, to raise awareness about recovery.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, Bryan East Campus, Plaza Convention Center, Lincoln, 6:30 pm to 8 pm: Stomp the Stigma Bryan, This event will feature actor Joe Pantoliano, who will speak about his own depression and addiction, as well as his recovery. The event is free, but requires pre-registration.

Supporting recovery strengthens families and communities, encourages public awareness, and helps people begin their recovery journeys. If you or someone you know is in need of support please know you are not alone. Please visit one of the following resources for more information:

Mental and substance use disorders affect millions of Americans. In 2015, 43.4 million people aged 18 or older (17.9 percent of adults) had a mental illness according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For the same timeframe, 20.8 million people aged 12 or older (7.8 percent) had a substance use disorder. And, 8.1 million adults, aged 18 or older, had both a substance use disorder and a mental illness.

In Nebraska, 258,000 individuals - 18.2 percent of the population – have mental illnesses.  At least 140,000 Nebraskans - 9.2 percent of the population - have substance use disorders. And 58,000 Nebraskans - 4.2 percent of the population – have co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness.