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An Introduction to Honest, Open, Proud

 

In February, we discussed the TLC4 Model, which explains how WISE reaches various populations and produces tangible change throughout Wisconsin. Click here to reread that article. In that post, we also said that the best way to reduce stigma is to share our own mental health challenges and story of recovery with others. However, WISE understands that stigma can also make it incredibly difficult to share our stories with people close to us, let alone, publically. This is completely understandable, as sharing our story requires us to be open and vulnerable to others and their opinions.

Honest, Open, Proud, or HOP, is another of WISE’s resources that aids in making strategic, safe decisions related to sharing our story of mental health challenges and recovery. HOP, is a multi-session group-program that is facilitated by trained leaders with lived experiences. HOP was developed by Dr. Patrick Corrigan, the director of the National Consortium of Stigma and Empowerment, or NCSE. HOP was developed through extensive community-based participatory research led by people with lived experience. The program was also tested by the NCSE and has been recognized as an evidence-based program registered with the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices of the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

In short, HOP seeks to replace harmful and hurtful self-stigma with beliefs of recovery, empowerment, and hope. The goal of HOP is not to convince people to share their stories, but rather to provide a venue among peers by which they might consider the various choices they face related to sharing their stories. HOP assists participants in considering the pros and cons of talking about their experiences, learning various ways to disclose, and writing and telling their story in a way that emphasizes strength, wisdom, and recovery. In an effort to make HOP accessible, all program and training materials are available here.

If you take a look at the program, you’ll see that HOP has several parts. The key concepts for each part of the HOP framework are as follows:

The Story We Tell Ourselves

  • When we recognize a possibility for improving our situation and make a first step towards exploring those options, we begin the path to recovery.
  • On that non-linear path, we gain wisdom about and for our life.
  • How others have defined the challenges and spoken about and treated others who have faced similar challenges will impact how that person understands their experiences and who they are in relation to it. False ideas leading to distorted beliefs and discriminatory behaviors is the definition of stigma.
  • We can identify and change hurtful self-attitudes impacted by such stigma.
  • The process of changing hurtful self-talk involves identifying it, considering how it would apply to others, and countering it with realistic and hopeful self-talk.

Pros and Cons of Sharing our Experiences

  • How we talk about our experiences with others will impact our self-perception and the perception others hold of us. It can also be an opening or a barrier to getting and giving support, and to be known for who we are.
  • We make decisions on a daily basis about if and how we talk about ourselves to others.
  • There are pros and cons to sharing our personal challenges and wisdom gained on the path of recovery. These vary from situation to situation and person to person.
  • Knowing our goal or reason for sharing this personal information in any given situation will guide our decision. Some goals include being understood, being accepted for who we are, receiving an accommodation, offering support to someone else, etc.

Points to Consider About Sharing our Experience

  • There are characteristics that we can look for in another person to help us decide if that person will likely help us to meet our goal once we have opened up to them. We can even test that person out before talking to them to see how they respond generally to people who face similar challenges we have faced.
  • When faced with a decision to share our experience, our options are to share, not to share, or to postpone the decision.

If the Decision is to Share our Experience

  • If someone does not respond in a way that we had hoped, our most powerful, gracious, and helpful response is to let them know what we were hoping to have happened (our reason) and that we had assessed them as someone who could respond in that manner.
  • Sharing our story is most often done in small segments over time. We share more or less of our story based on our goals. We are in control of how much and in what detail we talk about our experiences.
  • If part of our goal in sharing our experiences is to reduce stigma, it is important to share our strengths that we brought to our challenges and those we have discovered in recovery.
  • We are not alone. Others are making decisions about sharing their experiences. Peer support can be very helpful in our recovery journey.

HOP is a great tool that enables participants to consider the many decisions they face related to sharing their stories. Ultimately, it empowers participants with the realization that they have a lot of control over their story of mental health challenges and recovery. If you are interested in learning more about HOP or becoming a HOP facilitator, click here or email WISE@wisewisconsin.org.

Thanks,

Lucy, and the WISE team