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Our Direction

The Irwin Foundation is a nonprofit foundation committed to the vision of recovery and the process of recovering from mental illness. It promotes educational and training initiatives and supports community activities through its Celebration Recovery events.

The 2003 report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (www.mentalhealthcommission.gov) called for a fundamental transformation of mental health delivery systems to eliminate the obstacles to recovery, to reduce stigma, and to promote resilience to cope with life’s challenges. In addition, the report cited the importance of individuals receiving mental health treatment and their families actively participating in decision making processes and collaborating with those offering services.

In 2004, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration convened a broadly representative panel and published the National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery (www.samhsa.gov). Their definition of recovery states:

“Mental health recovery is a journey of healing and transformation enabling a
person with a mental health problem to live a meaningful life in a community
of his or her choice while striving to achieve his or her potential.”

The panel also identified ten fundamental components of recovery:

Self-Direction   Individualized and Person Centered
Empowerment   Holistic
Non-Linear   Strengths-Based
Peer Support   Respect
Responsibility   Hope

A Vision of Hope

The Irwin Foundation was created in honor of Irwin B, an individual who struggled with symptoms of a severe mental illness. In mid-life, Irwin B benefited significantly from advances in diagnosis and treatment, enabling him to end the relentless cycle of hospitalizations and discouragement. Although Irwin was able to have a more meaningful life, living into his seventies, Irwin B never overcame the stigma and humiliation of his illness. The opportunity to participate in everyday life – a goal he dreamed of and worked toward – was elusive, often leaving Irwin B with the feeling that his life was one of lost opportunities, little purpose, and limited acceptance by the community.

The Irwin Foundation strives to validate Irwin B’s dream that recovery is possible and to commemorate his courage and determination to eliminate stigma and to create a better future for himself and others recovering from mental illness. Its goals are consistent with The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (2003) that states that recovery is “the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities” regardless of their specific circumstances. This is a basic human right.


©2001-2010 The Irwin Foundation.