By: Trivium's Clinical Director
Alfredo Hernandez, LMSW
In May we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), millions of Americans “face the reality of living with a mental illness,” and nowhere does that hold truer than in our agencies, clientele, and work as Trivium. Overcoming mental illness, learning to accept and live with it, and moving forward in life despite its presence requires absolute adherence to our mission of “Creating Hope. Empowering Lives. Inspiring Communities” because hope, it turns out, is an incredibly powerful tool that is too often left out of the work we do.
According to Casey Gwinn and Chan Hellman in their wonderful book Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life, “in every published study of hope, every single one, hope is the single best predictor of well-being compared to any other measure of trauma recovery. This finding is consistently corroborated with other published studies from top universities showing that hope is the best predictor for a life well-lived.” The authors reflect on over 2,000 published studies on hope, saying they “consistently demonstrate the power of hope in the areas of education, work, health, mental health, social relationships, family, and recovery from trauma.”
The Science of Hope defines hope as “the belief that your future can be brighter and better than your past and that you actually have a role to play in making it better.” Building on psychologist Rick Snyder’s work that says hope consists of goals, pathways (waypower), and agency (willpower), Gwinn and Hellman write on the power of hope in “the idea that you have goals you desire to achieve, you can identify pathways toward the goals, and you can direct and sustain your willpower toward the goal and pathways necessary to reach those goals. This simple, yet power trilogy, now confirmed in hundreds of published studies, has become the science of hope.”
As we continue to acknowledge the impact of mental health in our clientele and the communities from which they come, let’s dedicate ourselves to learning more about the science of hope and how we can bring that education into our assessments, service plans, group and individual sessions, and interactions because, per Naomi Drew: “Hope is actually something we can create. It’s not something that magically appears from an outside source. We each have within us the capacity to generate hope.”