National Recovery Month: many people struggle with mental health and this month celebrates their treatment and progress


Maddie Leopardo/Iowa State Daily

Friley Placeholder Stock Photo

Willa Colville

At a university with over 35,000 students, every day each student has the opportunity to interact with hundreds of people. This means everyday, students interact with multiple people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, whether they know it or not.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in the past year 1 of 5 adults experienced a mental illness. Similarly, 1 in 13 people over the age of 12 needed treatment for a substance abuse disorder.

While many struggle with mental health, SAMHSA believes that proper treatment and services can change a person’s life. This is why each September, National Recovery Month is celebrated throughout the United States.

According to the SAMHSA website, “Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.”

Here in Ames, Community and Family Resources (CFR) plans to celebrate National Recovery Month with community members. CFR is a local non-profit agency that offers substance abuse, mental health, gambling treatment and prevention services in Story, Boone, Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright counties.

CFR offers a variety of programs including drug or alcohol detoxification and gambling addiction services to help patients lead healthy, happy lives. Last year, CFR provided behavioral health treatment to approximately 3,000 individuals.

On Sept. 15, CFR will host the 6th Annual Recovery and Wellness 5k Run/Walk. The event, which takes place at Ada Hayden Park from 8 a.m. until noon, includes the 5k as well as other activities. For $10, participants can get free chair massages, create spin art, play yard games and enter giveaways. Healthy snacks and behavioral health resources will also be given to participants.

“Each year CFR joins this effort to raise awareness about the effect of behavioral health on overall health, the importance of prevention and how people can recover from mental health and substance use disorders,” said Sally Carnes, operations director at CFR.

This is the sixth year CFR will put on this event. People can register individually or as a family for the 5K or simply attend the event and enjoy the other activities.

For those with a loved one suffering from substance abuse, CFR offers education and prevention programs. These programs are also provided to schools, businesses and community groups.

At Iowa State, there are resources available for those suffering from mental health issues such as substance abuse. There are also many different ways students can educate themselves on the topics. For example, all first-year students are required to complete AlcoholEDU, a short online course which teaches the effects of alcohol on the brain, behavior and body.

One of the main resources offered at the university is Student Counseling Services (SCS). Most of the professional services provided by the SCS are free of charge for Iowa State students. Students are encouraged to visit SCS for issues with anxiety or depression, interpersonal relationships, eating disorders and more.

While SCS does not provide treatment for substance abuse, they offer resources and guide students toward the road to recovery. Students can join support groups in the Ames community such as Alcoholics Anonymous. For more information regarding substance abuse, visit