Hundreds of N.J. residents with severe mental illness and/or developmental disabilities attend SERV Recovery NJ Conference
The SERV Foundation of SERV Behavioral Health System Inc., headquartered in Ewing, N.J., recently sponsored its 7th annual “Recovery NJ Conference” for SERV’s consumers throughout the state, their families and outside healthcare professionals.
More than 400 people attended the free conference on May 16 at the Hyatt Regency-New Brunswick. Each year, this conference strives to give people with severe mental illness (such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) and/or developmental disabilities and their family members the opportunity to network, gain encouragement, and learn the tools needed to recover and find complete wellness.
The daylong conference was organized, executed and attended by SERV staff, residents and their families, and mental-health professionals from SERV’s eight-county service area. Consumers from outside agencies also attended the event.
The Recovery Conference carried the theme, “Celebrating Achievements Through Wellness and Recovery.” The day began with a continental breakfast and a welcome speech by SERV President and CEO Gary van Nostrand. Guests had a choice of two morning workshops focusing on “Wellness and Recovery.” Consumers were encouraged to make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, thereby reducing their risk of chronic diseases. This, in turn, lends itself to a life of improved self-esteem and overall mental health.
During one of the workshops, three SERV consumers shared their inspirational stories of recovery. The success stories of all three are featured on SERV’s website. Each has achieved a higher level of independence, which is the goal for all of SERV’s consumers, no matter what their disability.
Following lunch, keynote speaker Eric Arauz captured the audience’s attention with his inspirational message of hope and recovery. Arauz, a disabled veteran of the first Gulf War, is recovering from bipolar disorder. Founder of Arauz Inspirational Enterprises, he travels throughout New Jersey and elsewhere to share his experience of mental illness, Eric Arauz gives the keynote address during addiction and Recovery.
The event was made possible by the SERV Foundation with sponsorship by Janssen Pharmaceutica, Verizon and many area businesses that donated gift items for the event.