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Advocates Forum


Colorado Mental Health Advocates’ Forum
Consensus Statement on Mental Health Resiliency 



“At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself – yet also knowledge of something larger than oneself. Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs” (p. 71, THRIVE:  The THRIVE approach to Mental Wellness by Marion Aslan & Mike Smith). 

Resiliency is the dynamic capacity for innovative survival and self renewal in response to life’s challenges. Resiliency can be learned at any age, especially when nurtured and supported by others. The concept of resiliency is often applied to individuals who have experienced disabilities from a young age. The SAMHSA National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery talks about resiliency’s role in recovery. Resiliency is personal, involving many meaningful characteristics including the following: 


Flexibility and Creative Thinking


Flexibility and creative thinking are the abilities to identify and use various options to solve problems and overcome challenges. Both work together as we choose how to respond to life and move forward. People who are flexible and creative in their thinking and interactions with the world are more successful in maintaining their stability. Flexibility and creative thinking often allow us to find other ways to achieve our goals. 





Persistence includes patience, courage, and perseverance. Persistent people are determined and do not give up easily.



Sense of Humor


A sense of humor is the ability to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances and not take life too seriously. This helps us survive difficult situations and put things in perspective. 





Ownership includes taking responsibility for our feelings, thoughts, and actions. It promotes growth and wellness and leads to improved self-esteem and increased self-confidence. Finding balance between taking responsibility for ourselves and respectfully leaving others’ issues for them to handle leaves us free to pursue our own goals and dreams. 



Goal Orientation


First we identify our passions, dreams, wishes, and hopes. Next we determine the steps we need to accomplish them. Finally we follow through on those steps. 



Sense of Purpose


Sense of purpose is a belief that we have a reason for living and doing things. Meaningful activities (such as a job, volunteer work, recreational activities, friendships, etc.) nurture our sense of purpose. 



Sense of Belonging


Living, working, or playing together interdependently fills a basic human need. Belonging can be by place, time, group of people, or any other variable important to each person. Positive participation with our family, friends, or community allows us to belong and give back to others. We can choose to be involved in any group that fits in with our ways of being, thinking, or doing.   



Optimism / Positive Outlook


All life runs in cycles; change is inevitable. Being able to look at the world with hope and anticipation gives us both perspective and balance. 



Social Competence


Good communication skills, both listening well and speaking clearly, are the foundation of social competence. The abilities to empathize with another person’s point of view, as well as to negotiate and compromise, are essential. Creative expression, in all its many artistic forms, helps us express ourselves, communicate with others, and advocate for ourselves as we work to build and maintain relationships at all levels. 



Self Care / Acceptance


Healthy coping skills are essential to survival. Moving beyond surviving to thriving requires that we understand and accept the difference between things that are, and are not, within our realm of control. It also requires that we accept ourselves and give ourselves time to process through things. Diagnoses and other labels help us understand what is going on, but they do not define who we are. We need to manage stress effectively and learn to relax and enjoy life, in spite of the various challenges that we face. A positive attitude and a sense of humor go a long way in enhancing the quality of our lives. We choose to seek out supportive people in our lives to encourage us to accept and love ourselves.

Last Revised: 08/5/2010



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