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Hope for Mental Health Recovery Can Cut State's Drop-Out Rate

May 18, 2007

As the legislature grapples with raising the state's minimum age for dropping out of school, community advocates say it would be better to focus on the reasons for early drop-outs, such as mental and emotional problems. That's one of the findings from a series of focus sessions being conducted by the state's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Janine Lapete with the Alternative Life Center in Conway notes that students with emotional and mental illness are much more likely to drop out of school, and hope for recovery makes them more likely to finish high school.

"My main message is that having a mental illness might be part of who you are, but that's not what you are, and that there is hope. There are many things that people with mental illness can do, and they can recover."

Lapete is proof that recovery is possible -- she overcame a mental illness in her youth and is now assistant director of a peer counseling center with five offices throughout the North Country. Lapete believes hope was a key to recovering from her own experience with mental illness.

"If you don't have any hope, and if you don't strive for anything, then you don't go anywhere. And if I had believed that my life would just be status quo, then I wouldn't be where I am today."

John Robinson/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NH