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Advocacy Unlimited - Recovery and advocacy education for people with mental health and/or addiction issuesAdvocacy Unlimited, Inc. - Comprehensive education in recovery and advocacy skills for people in recovery from mental health and/or addiction issues

Young Adult Initiatives

Young Adult
“Super Advocate”

Advocacy to Recovery Youth Initiative

Young Adult ''Super Advocate'' Students at the Legislative Office Building

The "Super Advocate" program is an initiative where young adults age 18 to 25 with mental illness and/or addiction issues learn how to recover or further their recovery, sustain their recovery, and go on to provide peer support and hope to other young adults with mental health and/or addiction issues.

Through a recovery and advocacy education and training curriculum designed specifically for young adults with mental health and/or addiction issues, students learn to "Uncover, Discover, Recover." They identify the tools of recovery and advocacy and how to utilize them in everyday life, explore the issues of recovery through advocacy, and provide the opportunity to showcase the solutions and to pass on the message of recovery to others. They learn to advocate for themselves and others, and following graduation, become part of a "Super Advocate" network that goes beyond the students who have taken this course. This network provides peer support to other young adults with mental health and addiction issues, offering the hope of recovery, compassion, support, and showing them they can successfully get their lives back. It epitomizes the "What a difference a friend makes" concept.

The course is comprised of 12 lessons and is held one day a week for 12 weeks. To date, fifteen courses have been held throughout Connecticut and more than 145 courageous young adults have successfully completed and graduated from this program.


AU's Young Adult "Super Advocate" curriculum is an initiative for young adults to make a difference by spreading the message of recovery through advocacy from concerns of mental health and substance use issues.

Uncover Discover Recover

  • Identify the tools of recovery and advocacy and how to utilize them in everyday life;
  • Identify the tools of recovery and advocacy and how to utilize them in everyday life;
  • Provide the opportunity to showcase the solutions and to pass on the message of recovery.

Learn the Twelve Lessons of Empowerment, Recovery, and Advocacy

  1. The Test and Quest for Passions
       · Appreciate inquiry
       · Community norms
       · Self-knowledge
  2. Advocacy and Recovery Messages of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
       · Co-occurring "multiple vulnerabilities"
  3. Conservatorship
       · The laws
  4. Patient's Bill of Rights and Advance Directives
       · The policies
  5. Supportive Services
       · What's in your backyard?
  6. History of the Mental Health Movement
       · Civil Rights
       · Where we came from shows where we can go
  7. Legislative Process
       · Make the change
  8. Advocacy
       · Super powers of change
       · Peer support
       · What a difference a friend makes
       · Using experience, strength, and hope
       · Giving recovery away to keep it
  9. Empathy and Cultural Awareness "Stigma Busters"
  10. ADA
       · Equal treatment
  11. Got a Minute or Five?!?
       · What are the important issues?
  12. Ready for your close-up?

Additional resources for young adults

Young Adult ''Super Advocate'' with homework

Bullet PointDMHAS Young Adult Services Division - Since 1999, DMHAS has developed an array of Young Adult Services to provide specialized, age and developmentally appropriate supports for young people, many of whom are transitioning out of the DCF system of care, and are diagnosed with a major mental illness. Age-specific programs have been developed at both state-operated and private non-profit Local Mental Health Authorities throughout Connecticut in order to assist young people to transition successfully into adulthood. Young adults who are referred to these specialized services must meet DMHAS' target population eligibility criteria; however, we recognize that young adults with mental illness often present quite differently than do their older counterparts.

The Young Adult Services Division is directed by Cheryl L. Jacques, MSN, APRN.  For more information, visit DMHAS Young Adult Services, or call (860) 262- 6988 to speak to a YAS staff member.

Bullet PointWhat a Difference a Friend Makes - SAMHSA launched the Mental Health Campaign for Mental Health Recovery to encourage, educate, and inspire people between 18 and 25 to support their friends who are experiencing mental health problems. The prevalence of serious mental health conditions in this age group is almost double that of the general population, yet young people have the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. This group has a high potential to minimize future disability if social acceptance is broadened and they receive the right support and services early on.

Bullet PointStrengthofUs.org - Launched by NAMI, StrengthofUs.org is a new online community where young adults living with mental health concerns, as well as anyone entering adulthood that has a friend, parent, or family member facing a mental health problem, can connect and provide mutual support in navigating unique challenges and opportunities during the critical transition years from ages 18 to 25. Developed by young adults, StrengthofUs.org is a user-driven social networking community where members can connect with peers, share personal stories, creativity, and helpful resources by writing and responding to blog entries, engaging in discussion groups, and sharing videos, photos, and other news. It is an interactive, fun space for young adults to empower each other, build relationships, and offer peer support.

Bullet PointInspire USA - Inspire's mission is to help young Americans lead happier lives. Inspire USA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in San Francisco in 2007. Inspire takes a strength-based, public health approach to its work with a focus on mental health promotion and the prevention of high risk behavior, with a particular interest in suicide prevention. Inspire USA Foundation is part of an international network which includes Australia, where Inspire began, and the Inspire Ireland Foundation.

Bullet PointR.E.A.C.H. OUT Project - The R.E.A.C.H. OUT Project is a nonprofit organization that provides peer-mentor support to youth and families struggling with behavioral, substance use, and/or mental health disorders.

Bullet PointReachOut.com - Inspire USA launched reachout.com in March 2010. Reach Out is an online mental health information and support service designed to help 16-24 year olds get through tough times. Reach Out integrates youth generated, expert-reviewed information and real life stories with opportunities to connect with others in a supportive, safe environment. It is based on a highly successful, Australian program that has been operating for 12 years and is recognized by 3 out of 4 young people in this target age group. Reach Out has contributed to a 57% reduction in youth suicide in Australia since its inception.

Bullet PointThe Next Right Thing - The Next Right Thing, LLC offers community-based substance abuse and mental health treatment for adolescents (ages 16-23) and their families. Substance abuse and mental health problems are symptoms of a disease in an adolescent's life. Treatment in the community with families and peers is the solution. The Next Right Thing is an after-school and early evening program. The program is structured to address a continuity of treatment needs - from identifying a problem; through stabilizing changes in new behaviors; to maintaining healthy behaviors for the entire family. The Next Right Thing is located in Bishop's Corner, West Hartford at the crossroads of North Main Street and Route 44, offering easy access to neighboring communities.

TurningPointCT - TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it's like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We've lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. Thankfully, we found what worked for us. Our goal is to provide information and support to help you choose your path so that you don't have to struggle the way we did.

Bullet PointConnecticut Turning to Youth and Families (CTYF) - A statewide organization established to strengthen Connecticut's prevention, treatment and recovery support services for youth and families. Using the power of youth and families with their own stories, CTYF offers peer-to-peer programs and services that are natural recovery supports for other youth and families. We are parents, family members and youth who have our own family stories dealing with addiction. Now in recovery ourselves, we offer strength, hope and voice for families healing and recovering. CTYF is a place where families can turn for information, strength and help build youth and family peer-to-peer prevention and recovery efforts in Connecticut's communities. We provide a platform for dialogue and learning, and help to bring about youth-guided, family-centered advances in preventing alcohol and other drug abuse, treatment and recovery systems of care.

Bullet PointThe Courage To Speak Foundation, Inc. - A nonprofit organization based in Norwalk, CT, whose mission is "to save lives by empowering youth to be drug free through fostering education and open communication about the dangers of drug and alcohol use." The Courage To Speak Foundation encourages parents to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs.

Bullet PointNortheast Communities Against Substance Abuse - The principal mission of Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse (NECASA) is to prevent substance abuse in the youth population within the twenty-one towns covered by the coalition. The ultimate goal of NECASA is to reduce substance abuse in Northeast Connecticut.

Bullet PointLow Key Café - Low Key Café is a monthly open mic "coffeehouse" hosted by the YAS program. It is a café for persons in recovery, a cozy and inviting low key atmosphere suitable for all ages, especially young adults. Songs, poetry, short stories, music videos, and more! Open mic, free refreshments, guest artists, and an atmosphere/forum to express yourself through art. Meetings are held monthly on the third Sunday of every month at the Milford Christian Church, 989 New Haven Avenue, Milford, CT 06460. Doors open at 6:30 pm, open mic starts at 7:00 pm, and the special featured artist will perform at 7:30 pm. Pastries, coffee, tea, cocoa, and admission are free!

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