Events include reading of proclamation and revamped Hands Across Prineville

September is Recovery Month, and local health officials are celebrating, although their plans are slightly changed because of the COVID pandemic.

Recovery Month is a national observance held annually to teach Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.

"During September, we celebrate the gains made by those in recovery and reinforce the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover," said Heather Stuart, prevention specialist with Crook County Health Department. "The month is all about supporting new, evidence-based treatment and recovery practices and just promoting to our community that recovery is possible."

The celebration, which is a joint effort of the health department and Rimrock Trails Treatment Services, will kick off with a Recovery Month proclamation read by Crook County Judge Seth Crawford.

Typically, what follows is a Hands Across Prineville demonstration, which usually takes place at a local park or in front of the Crook County Courthouse. People join hands to demonstrate to motorists and other passersby that people can support their recovering community.

But since health officials discourage close contact during the pandemic, the celebration will feature a new look this year. Stuart said that businesses and community members will be given hand cutouts, which they are encouraged to color and decorate. People are then asked to put the hands in the windows of their businesses or homes. Participants are also encouraged to photograph the displayed hands and post them to social media with #handsacrossprineville and #centraloregonrecovery.

"We have also provided businesses and organizations with virtual Zoom or Microsoft Teams backgrounds to promote Recovery Month in addition to some social media posts," Stuart added.

While celebrating Recovery Month, local health officials will also highlight National Suicide Prevention Week. Taking place Sept. 6-12, the special week is intended to raise suicide awareness in local communities.

Suicide Prevention Week and Recovery Month share a common thread, which health officials hope to highlight during September. Stuart pointed out that the theme for the Suicide Prevention Week is "resilience and recovery," which she said "emphasizes recovery from mental health issues and struggles that potentially lead to suicidal ideation."

"We are really encouraging a special focus on the intersection between suicide prevention, alcohol and drug use, and the efforts that foster resilience and recovery," she said.

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