IOOV – In Our Own Voice

What is IOOV?

In Our Own Voice (IOOV) is a unique public education program developed by NAMI, in which two trained consumer speakers share compelling personal stories about living with mental illness and achieving recovery. They share insights into what a mental illness is, the affect the illness has had on their lives, and the prejudices and stereotypes they sometimes face in the community.

The program was started with a grant from Eli Lilly and Company.

IOOV is an opportunity for those who have struggled with mental illness to gain confidence and to share their individual experiences of recovery and transformation. Throughout the IOOV presentation, audience members are encouraged to offer feedback and ask questions. Audience participation is an important aspect of IOOV because the more audience members become involved, the closer they come to understanding what it is like to live with a mental illness and stay in recovery.

IOOV presentations are given to consumer groups, students, law enforcement officials, educators, providers, faith community members, politicians, professionals, inmates, and interested civic groups.

A donation of $30 per presenter is requested for the presenters’ time ($60).  This can be waived if necessary. Any donation above the $60 goes to cover other expenses associated with the presentation.

Groups or organizations interested in seeing a presentation may request that one be given in their area by contacting NAMI CCNS at or 847-716-2252.

The goals of IOOV are to meet the need for consumer- run initiatives, to set a standard for quality education about mental illness from those who have been there, to offer genuine work opportunities, to encourage self-confidence and self-esteem in presenters, and to focus on recovery and the message of hope.

Anyone familiar with mental illness knows that recovery is not a singular event, but a multi-dimensional, multi-linear journey characterized more by the mindset of the one taking it than by his or her condition at any given moment along the way.

Understanding recovery as having several dimensions makes its uneven course easier to accept. Much as we don’t blame the cancer patient for dying of invasive tumors, we can’t condemn a consumer whose symptoms overtake his or her best efforts to manage illness.

Recovery is the point in someone’s illness in which the illness is no longer the first and foremost part of his or her life, no longer the essence of all his or her existence.

Ultimately, recovery is about attitude and making the effort.

Key Presentation Topics

In Our Own Voice is a unique recovery education presentation that offers hope and provides insight into the recovery now possible for people with mental illness.  IOOV is often a transformative experience for presenters, who are empowered by giving voice to their struggles and successes.  Presenters cover issues they frequently face while living with mental illness as they delve into the following topics:

Dark Days – Recovery from a serious mental illness can be a long, difficult journey.  During the Dark Days portion of the presentation, the speakers explore feelings and experiences that occurred during the darkest moments of living with a mental illness.

Acceptance – Learning to accept the reality of having a serious mental illness is quite a challenge.  It can be hard for anyone to come to terms with having a serious illness, no matter what it is.  Acceptance is essential to beginning recovery.  While sharing the period of acceptance, each presenter explains how acceptance is achieved.

Treatment – There are many methods for treating mental illness.  Every person is different, and this is the reason that there are many ways to walk down the path to recovery.  Presenters explain what treatment plan worked for them during this segment.

Coping Strategies – Wellness can be achieved by following a treatment plan and incorporating personal coping skills as an integral part of that plan.  Some common coping skills include:  making time for leisure activities and rest, exercising, engaging in spiritual activities, developing healthy friendships, getting involved with community charities, and finding ways to keep a sense of self awareness and acceptance.  During this section, presenters share their own coping skills with the audience.

Successes, Hopes and Dreams – IOOV Presenters have a variety of skills and ambitions.  A key component of recovery is setting goals while pursuing personal dreams.  Many consumers incorporate what they’ve learned from their illness into activities and plans for their future.  During this section presenters share their own successes, hopes, and dreams.

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