Skip navigation Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion About Us |  FAQs |  Contact Us 
ADS Center bridge over water logo

Toll-Free: 1-800-540-0320

Training Teleconferences
Information Update
Campaigns & Programs
Take Action
Campaign for Social Inclusion
Mental Health Facts
My Story
In The News
Join our Listserv
Link to Us
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: 10/7/2008

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


Diana Kern's Story

Twenty-four years ago, after the birth of my daughter when I was 26, I was diagnosed with a mental illness and hospitalized in Dallas. This was the beginning of 15 years of hospital stays, lasting from a week to more than a year. Treatment teams diagnosed me with everything from postpartum psychosis to schizophrenia.

In the '80s and early '90s, psychiatric medications were ineffective for me and the side effects seemed worse than the illness. During those long years, I lost the desire to live, care for my daughter and have friends. Social Security Disability payments and the generosity of my parents sustained me. Working in the "outside world" seemed impossible.

In the mid-'90s, when effective medications came on the market, I was able to think clearly for the first time in two decades. I felt as if I had been asleep all those years. I began to understand that it was up to me to heal myself.

I made the difficult decision to make friends and become a participant in my own life. I discovered NAMI, became a volunteer and consumer advocate and was able to move into a paid job for the first time, at the age of 43! I began to see my potential for helping others who had struggled. My thoughts and dreams shifted from expecting nothing to expecting recovery for myself and others.

I began working part time for NAMI-Texas in 1999 and moved into a full-time position two years later as special events coordinator. Through my work, I seized the opportunity to advocate for myself and other consumers at the local and state levels. In the past six years, I have built relationships with several Texas legislators and their staff, particularly Senate Finance and House Appropriations members.

I have served as a board member of my local NAMI affiliate for six years and, in 2001, I received a gubernatorial appointment to the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities as a representative for mental health issues. I am a board member of Goodwill of Central Texas, which affords me the opportunity to help consumers find meaningful work. I speak to many mental health professionals and consumer groups to emphasize the importance of relationships to a healthy recovery.

I am now marketing Expect Recovery! products to share my message of growth and wellness ( My message is that recovery from a serious mental illness is possible. However, consumers must be offered comprehensive care that focuses on wellness and speaks to their potential for a full and rich life.

Diana Kern

Adobe PDF™ and MS Office™ formatted files require software viewer programs to properly read them. Click here to download these FREE programs now.

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.