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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Speaking from Your Heart: Public Speaking and the Path to Recovery

Many individuals in this society with a mental health label are suffering from the consequences of not being heard and not being able to express themselves. We refer to this as “losing their voices.” This silence that is experienced may be due to some combination of trauma, vulnerabilities and being shut down by others, that made it difficult for individuals to learn how to successfully participate in their community.  

However, this silence can be broken through the recovery process. During this time, individuals are able to discover the tools that are necessary for successful healing and are able to move forward with their lives. Additionally, individuals learn how to utilize these tools to assist others who find themselves in similar situations.  

Through the process of peer support and sharing one’s recovery story with others and expressing one’s true self, especially the emotional dimensions of that self, an individual can grow. However, when this expression is hindered, individuals can stop growing and a loss of voice, loss of control, and fear can be experienced. This fear can sometimes cause an individual to withdraw from the world.  

We believe that when individuals are able to speak freely from their hearts, it liberates them and those around them, to lead fuller, freer lives. By sharing the gift of open communication and recovery, individuals can feel strengthened by other individuals in their community who have traveled the road of recovery.  The recovery process relies on the continued growth and evolution of everyone that comes into contact with people on the road to recovery. 

Sharing one’s recovery story helps change the mental health system. Recovery stories are not just powerful on a personal level; they break the silence that exists, bring people into the discussion, and help transform the system to be more person-driven. This is a very powerful demonstration of a marginalized group taking a step toward social inclusion. 

This training will:

  • Provide information on the value of public speaking as a recovery and educational tool. 
  • Provide information on self disclosure as a recovery and educational tool.
  • Provide introductory skills and tips in preparing to share one’s personal story.

To access the Webcast please click on the following link;

To access the PowerPoint presentation used in the Webcast please download one of the following files:

The Presenters

Dally Sanchez
Psychiatric Survivor, Human Rights Activist, and Advocate

Dally Sanchez is a 28 year old, enthusiastic mother of two girls, whom she is raising in New York. She is a psychiatric system survivor from the age of 11; she started as a member of the Westchester County, NY Youth Forum, and then became a peer leader and eventually co-coordinator and office manager for the group. Dally has over 10 years of experience working with young people with disabilities as a peer advocate, peer trainer, and peer systems advocate, and over 5 years experience working within the adult consumer/ survivor movement. Through her work as a peer leader, Dally has participated in, planned and co-facilitated many workshops, panels, and conferences where she helped to educate professionals on the importance of youth involvement. Dally also has been a part of the national and statewide youth movement. Attending and participating in ground breaking events for the youth movement such as the spring 2001 SAMHSA System of Care community planning meeting in Puerto Rico where she was part of a powerful youth track that also became the closing plenary session for the meeting. As well as the 17th Annual Rosalynn Carter symposium on children’s mental health, where she participated with other youth in brainstorming work groups that centered around finding solutions for the surgeon general’s report on mental health. She is also a contributing author to the TA Partnership’s “Reflections from the Field -Youth Involvement in Systems of Care: A Guide to Empowerment” published in 2005. Dally has extensive experience in both the youth and the adult disability movements training, empowering, and actively supporting and speaking out on behalf of people with disabilities and their rights.  In her work as a Mental Health Systems Advocate at the Westchester Independent Living Center, Dally gained knowledge of the independent living philosophy, history, and advocacy needs, which she then used to effectively train and advocate for persons with disabilities cross-systems and cross-disabilities.  She considers her present day Hope in her life, success and healing a direct result of being helped to find her voice by her peers and being able to help others and give back in the same way that she herself was helped. Dally is the recipient of the Families Together in NYS 2007 “Outstanding Advocate of the Year” Award and the  National People of Color Consumer/Survivor Network 2008 “Esperanza/Hope Memorial Award.” 

Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D
Executive Director
National Empowerment Center

Dr. Fisher’s purpose for life has been to inspire hope and call forth the voice that helps people recover. This passion comes from his lived experience with mental illness. After graduating from Princeton University., he obtained a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin in 1968 and carried out neurochemical research at the National Institutes of Mental Health into the possible biochemical basis of schizophrenia, from 1968-73.  However, during the course of that work, at age 25, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was hospitalized. He recovered from schizophrenia. His recovery gave his life new meaning: to help others to recover.

To carry out this goal, he earned a MD from George Washington University in 1976, and completed his residency training in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in 1979. He has practiced as a board-certified, community psychiatrist at Riverside Community Care in Wakefield, Massachusetts, USA, for the last 25 years. To bring about change at a broader level, he co-founded, in 1992, the National Empowerment Center ( and has served as its Executive Director of this federally-funded center since then. He was a Commissioner on the White House New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2002-2003.

Lauren Spiro
National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations

Ms. Spiro the director of public policy of the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (, a national grassroots organization. Lauren Spiro is the Coalition’s voice on Capitol Hill, advancing the values, vision, policies and legislative priorities of mental health consumers across the country. She also represents the Coalition at meetings and conferences, communicates with constituents, and networks with leaders of other national organizations. She has served on a number of boards of directors and advisory boards, and was a founding board member of the Arlington Recovery Empowerment Center, a consumer-run wellness center, and of Housing Unlimited, Inc., which provides housing for adults labeled with mental illness. As a teenager, she was labeled with chronic schizophrenia. She enjoys using her personal and professional experience to educate people about the dynamic components of recovery, empowerment and civic engagement. She is particularly delighted to be working on a NCMHCSO project to develop Emotional CPR, a public health education program that prepares lay people to assist others who are experiencing an emotional crisis. She is passionate about her vision of an America where every individual is respected and included as a valued member of the community. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology. 

This Webcast was developed by the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations,

For additional information on the Campaign for Mental Health Recovery, contact the Campaign Liaison:

Ruth Montag
Telephone: 240-744-7062

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.