Alert: NYAPRS to Rebrand as the Alliance for Rights and Recovery!

September 13, 2023, by Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director NYAPRS

Dear Friends,

On behalf of our Board of Directors and our staff team, I am writing to let you know that NYAPRS will be enhancing our state and national impact as the newly re-branded Alliance for Rights and Recovery, effective October 9th, 2023.

Promoting human rights, social justice, self-determination, community integration and recovery-centered rehabilitation and peer delivered services has always been the center of our mission, dating back to when we were formed as the New York Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services in 1981 and when we expanded our big tent and efforts as the renamed New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services almost a decade later.

Since then, we’ve been frequently asked to advocate alongside the nation’s premiere national advocacy organizations, often serving as the only statewide recovery focused and peer-led member of a long list of coalitions and campaigns.

For some time, national media have regularly sought our reactions and recommendations on a host of policy related developments. We’ve also been engaged to lead or partner in a number of national and state training, technical assistance and research initiatives that have advanced recovery culture and culturally responsive peer and rehabilitation values, practices, and models, including the original NYAPRS Peer Bridger Model™ that we created in 1993.

As a result, we’ve been encouraged to take on a more intentional national role by our community members, state and national partners and a number of federal agencies.

Accordingly, our most recent board strategic planning process produced a recommendation that we take the steps necessary to engage in a rebranding process and increase our national presence and impact. After much consideration and discussions with our members and partners, we will be moving forward in this direction on October 9th, shortly after this year’s NYAPRS Annual Conference.

After the date, we will identify ourselves as the Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly NYAPRS) in all of our communications, materials, newly redesigned website and enhanced internet presence. As the Alliance for Rights and Recovery, our broadened national focus and profile will make our support and impact on behalf of our New York and national grassroots recovery and peer support communities that much stronger and successful, allowing us to tap into a more extensive and diverse set of national resources and opportunities to strengthen our commitment to advance our mission, movement and the priorities of our greater community.

We are excited about these developments and enthusiastically look forward to partnering with you to strengthen our shared efforts to promote the rights, recovery, wellness and success of our community members across the nation.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations

with us at

Thank you,


(September 11, 2023) by Howard Diamond

This is the latest installment of a multipart story by Howard Diamond.
To view the whole story so far, click here.

Two Years Later on February 9

A few nights went by and again, Ruth had an extremely restless sleep, but at 4 am on February 9, it was different. All evening, she was receiving multiple phone calls telling her to,  “BEWARE THE STREETS. Tonight, the prank caller added, “REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU ALL THOSE MONTHS AGO. IT WAS VERY BAD THAT NIGHT AND IT WILL BE WORSE FOR YOU TONIGHT! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! BEWARE THE STREETS!” Every time, the call lasted only forty seconds or less so they could not be traced. After about a dozen calls, Ruth took the receiver off the hook and put it on her night table till later.

Twenty four months or two years ago on this date, Ruth was suspiciously attacked by the mystery man. Also, her young son, Gabriel was beaten up and died supposedly from the same man. Although she still has no recall of the incidents surrounding this, Ruth has been working diligently trying to remember with the help of Jane, her therapist. 

This particular morning at Hunter Mental Health and Case Management Center Office an odd package arrived with no return address, but draped along the entire outside was a computer written note. On the reverse side, it stated that this was an anniversary gift for Ruth Haines and she needs to know what is inside. All the collective members of professionals, Karen, Taylor, Holly, Frank and Steve were curious, but followed office procedures and did not open the small container. Of course, Frank did not agree and wanted to open it immediately because it might be a bomb. In a huff, Frank left to see some of his own clients.

Bigger questions arose. Who is it from? What are the contents? Where did it actually come from? No one saw it arrive, so how did it get to the office? Why was it labeled for Ruth? Since Holly was supposed to connect with her and Jane later, she took control of the situation. In the meantime, she had Steve speak with Jane regarding the strange, interesting gift. For the session later, Jane requested that Holly bring it when they convened. During the early part of the afternoon Holly met Frank at Forest View, the new clinic and started planning to do some training on how the two agencies can assist each other.

Ruth’s scary afternoon.

All morning Ruth tried to diffuse what transpired overnight. It was difficult,  but with her coping skills, she got through the morning. While eating breakfast, Ruth heard from staff that after prolonged leave of absence, Marty Sinclair is returning to Generations as Assistant Director of Housing, starting March 21. A delighted Ruth said for a change she received good news. Post breakfast, Ruth proceeded to take the necessary steps to get ready for work at 11:00 am for her five hour shift at the diner. 

As she was leaving her place, another message was heard from her answering machine mentioning, “BEWARE THE STREETS! I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. I KNOW WHERE YOU WORK. WATCH YOUR BACK. BEWARE THE STREETS!” She did not respond to the call and walked outside. Good thing, Ruth was getting driven to her job at the diner by a colleague. On route, she had separate conversations with Taylor and Steve where she informed each party what had happened. Taylor relayed the information to Officer Grey who assigned a couple of unmarked police cars and added additional police presence.

Holly and Frank continue to disagree 

From the time Holly and Frank encountered each other, they seem to argue about almost everything. One would say white, the other black, plus they had alternate ways of handling similar issues. At Forest View their continual bickering caused unnecessary stress for the new staff. Today was no exception. 

To begin with, Frank wanted to start the proceedings having a short video on Ethics; however, Holly thought a relaxation exercise was a better opener. Timing is everything. Already, Karen phoned Forest View and informed Co Directors, George Nelson and Maria Cortes to show an informational video about the policies of the budding clinic. Upon conclusion, about fifty employees had the opportunity to ask questions of George and Maria.

Much to Frank’s amazement, the orientation on policies was shown. While Frank was repeatedly murmuring under his breath about the choice, he reluctantly stayed in the room, grinned and sucked up to George and Maria. For the next conference, Frank again proposed a meeting on Ethics, but George only stated he would consider it. On the other hand, Holly spoke with Maria and requested a video or speaker explaining different work related relaxation techniques.

George, 58, stood six foot four and 220 lbs. with balding gray hair plus tortoise shell glasses covering his medium brown eyes. Maria, almost fifty three, a petite, thin, five foot two inch, Hispanic lady, who most days wore six inch heels, a long floral dress and a wide infectious smile. After the policy training, Holly and Frank divided the group into two and explained the duties of Peer Specialists. Most employees had never heard of Peer Specialists, but were willing to learn and ask questions. According to Holly the first afternoon at Forest View was eventful, but a lot of work remains. On the other hand, Frank was disappointed and decided to change the focus of the next training. He called to speak with Karen, but Steve said he will leave her a message. 

Holly, Jane, Ruth and the Box

Frantic Holly unnecessarily rushed back to her office. Steve had already sent the suspicious box to Pollock Officer Manager, Claire Jenkins, to hide until Jane asked for it. Also, Steve gave her a message from Karen to schedule a five way conference with Karen, Taylor, Holly, Frank and Steve. By the end of the week, day and time for the five to conference together will be determined. A list of Holly’s possibilities were given to Steve before Holly proceeded to Pollock Center. 

At Claire’s desk was Jane’s supervisor,  Lyle Sargeant, who had a short conversation about Jane’s next client, Ruth and the suspicious box. Not much was said because from the corner of her eye, Claire spotted Ruth coming from the elevator. So, Lyle mentioned that we will resume at another day and time. Also, he said he would be available until sixish in his office down the hall.

Without warning Ruth leaped to her feet. Beginning to pace back and forth plus naturally forth and back, too. Two times, three times, … her stride was getting quicker and quicker. Also, she began getting clammy palms plus sweat appeared on her face. After a few minutes, she raced to the bathroom, but found herself unable to go. What Ruth did was wash her face and hands with cold water to alleviate some of her perspiration. It really did not help with the present situation. 

When she exited the bathroom, Holly, trying to be compassionate, asked if Ruth was okay. She shook her head no, but she was shaking and was on the verge of fainting or collapsing. Claire noticed what was happening and brought Ruth a cup of water and knocked on Lyle’s door for assistance. While this was transpiring, Jane came to them and attempted to relax Ruth. Everyone did calm her some, so Jane was able to bring Ruth to room 310. In addition, she told Claire to have her Lyle and her doctor on stand-by. Holly remained outside the room to give Ruth and Jane some time to talk without her or the secret box.

In detail, Ruth explained the events of the past twenty-four hours. Most of these activities seem to be the markings of the mystery man. Also, Jane informed Ruth that Holly sent to the office a secret package with a computer written note. Jane buzzed on the intercom to Claire to give me the package, get a cup of tea plus please escort Holly to my office. 

A few minutes after all settling in, things changed. Like a flash, Ruth began to sweat profusely again. Without further prompting, she bolted out of her seat and said some things quite unusual. “Gabriel”, Ruth yelled!  “Where are you, Gabriel? Stop hiding from mommy, Gabe and please come here”. At this point, Ruth was confused, because she did not understand what she was asking. Furthermore, Ruth said she did not know any person named Gabriel. Several minutes later, she asked for Gabriel, again. Three more times in this session, Ruth wanted Gabriel to come to her. It was clear to Jane that Ruth was getting severely anxious which led to a series of panic attacks from the events of the past day.

Due to this being Jane’s last appointment, Jane gave Ruth an extra session to regroup and process. At this time, Ruth was relaxed enough and wanted to know about the package. So Holly explained that this morning it was received by Steve with an attached note.  No return name was on either the envelope or in the note, but it assuredly based on the envelope belonged to Ruth. Getting restless, Ruth wanted to read the note on the package. No one recognized the font used by the writer, but apparently was sent by the mystery man or his goons. It included his popular phrase directed to Ruth , “BEWARE THE STREETS“, that was used eight times within the note.

Against Jane’s advice, Ruth tore through the package. Black colored triple plied wrapping paper was covering a boy toddler’s outfit. Dried blood adorned the clothes along with a ripped name tag beginning with an O or a G. Then, Ruth began to cry and shouted the name, Gabriel. She did this a few more times, but until the last time, the name meant little or nothing to her.

Several more attempts were made by Jane to get information about Gabe, but no reaction was forthcoming as she had a blank expression.  Continuing, Ruth stated she was never married and had no children. Of course, that means nothing, but she kept insisting she had ZERO children. Seven years ago, Ruth mentioned she had relations with a drug dealer. She did not know or remember anything from the following. Casually and quietly a name came out. His name is Oscar. Asked to repeat, Ruth said, Oscar. 

(His name is Oscar “Scar” Young, five foot seven and almost 200 lbs. Around five years ago, Scar was sent to prison for a drug deal gone bad. Many individuals were found dead in the vicinity of Lake Town plus he shot and killed two cops. Through his so-called friends, the Police found that Scar was stabbed and died in jail). 

Again, getting agitated, Ruth was again yelling Gabe’s name. Relaxation techniques were used by Jane and became very successful for Ruth. Good enough that Ruth calmed down sufficiently so Holly could drive her home. Before leaving, Claire put the outfit in the box and put it in Holly’s trunk. 

When the session was over, Holly put the half asleep Ruth in her vehicle and dropped her off at Generations and made sure that she was in bed, safely. Finally, Holly proceeded to the Police Station to an eagerly waiting, Mary. She stated Officer Grey and the crime lab will do an investigation starting tomorrow or Friday. “To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it.”

To download a PDF of just Part 12 click here.
To download a PDF of the full story to date, click here.

Random Act By a Peer Specialist: PART 13 will be arriving here soon.
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island,  New York

Repost: Another Voice: To Improve Mental Health, Build The Workforce First

Reposted from NPR –

Call it ‘stealth mental health’ — some care for elders helps more without the label – August 14th

The pandemic drew a lot of attention to young people’s mental health. But older people have suffered, too. Many are struggling with loneliness, anxiety, or substance abuse.

Fewer than half of older adults who need mental health care get it, according to the National Council on Aging.

“One reason is that professionals are under-trained to treat the mental health needs of older adults,” says Regina Koepp, a clinical psychologist based in Vermont, and the founder of the Center for Mental Health and Aging. “Many professionals feel quite incompetent and will say that they just don’t treat older adults.”

Read More at this link – 

Effective Peer Specialists Need Energy  

(September 5, 2023) By Howard Diamond

Peer Specialists who work one on one with others have often asked: “Was I effective there?’ or “How could I have been more effective?”

These two questions evoke many operating functional parts into the conversation. These elements include essential engagement, the alliance between Peer Support Specialists and the clients we assist, plus the general skills and techniques used in helping others is crucial.  All of these push back against the response of the participant involved. However, the prevailing moving part of this relationship process that has the most momentum and hands down the most significant player in treatment is the word energy.

Energy is the strength and vitality required for sustained physical and mental activity. This type of energy is created by its own inertia and is what truly drives peer relationships in the correct direction. I am not trying to be facetious. Work or doing work separately and together makes the difference in a peer relations almost every time. 

Note that in physics, the measure of energy transfer in a therapeutic or clinical language is different. There, the change or corrective force occurs when an object (the issue at hand) is moved over a distance by an outside force (the counselor or therapist). In physics, this makes perfect sense. But we are not talking about the laws of physics. 

So, why does it seem like such a ludicrous sham when energy is translated into clinical terms? So now, I will be brutally honest. Aside from the terms, “burnout” and “compassion fatigue,” there aren’t many phrases that evaluate the sheer energy a Peer Specialist must invest into his or her work and that must be matched by the individual that results in any meaningful gains. Actual results require equal energy from the Peer Specialist and the actual consumer. 

Let us break it down on both sides. Have you ever met with a therapist who is boring, unmotivating, and has low energy? My insomnia aside, I still would have fallen asleep during the session. Obviously, people don’t make progress in therapy when they are asleep. Actually, most of us hardly develop much of anything while slumbering, except maybe recharging our internal batteries. In Addition, Peer Specialists need to have a keen ability to motivate individuals to be effective. Peer Specialists as well as recipients have to be awake, attentive, and actively responding to a highly invigorating therapeutic prodding. 

Pushing against this and learning where he or she stands in the travels of our therapeutic distress is vital. Naturally this is invoked by our therapist and often leads us as the patient to learn about our new limits, our insights, and increased self-awareness. Any back and forth collaboration creates an energy transfer and release of negative energies, and or cultivation of positive reframe. The purpose of the therapist re-framing the content worked with in session is to understand ourselves and the world more deeply.

Peer Support Specialists and the consumers we assist are not immune. Our overall energy tends to motivate each party separately and together. When the client has a high level of energy, we can get more accomplished and a goal can be achieved. Also, a client with low passion can still reach the goal, but it becomes more difficult. A Peer Specialist with increased determination is more effective and efficient in helping most of the clients served. Less energy from the Peer Specialist tends to make others act lethargic and uncaring about goals. Either way, Peer Specialists are very effective, but it is hard to measure how much. Both partners in these relationships ought to have middle to high energies to obtain successful goals. Remember, it is the client’s goal and energy, not the goal of the Peer Specialist. Our effectiveness and energies can and does make a positive difference.

According to various sources, Peer Specialists improve the quality of life, increase and improve engagement with services, and increase physical and mental health and self-management. Being part of the Peer Specialist Community, I am always grateful to see positive pieces on what we do. We have come far, climbed many mountains, swam many waters but we still have a long way to go. As we continue our journey we will have bumps in the road, but will persevere one Peer Specialist and one day at a time.

See you in the Newsletters and NewsBlogs. 
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island New York. 

Viaduct or Why a Duck?


(August 24, 2023) By Howard Diamond

To set the stage before we begin, a VIADUCT by definition is a long elevated roadway usually consisting of a series of short spans supported on arches, piers or columns. This structure typically carries a railroad, mostly freight, across a valley or other low ground. Basically the difference between a bridge and a viaduct is that a bridge ensures travel from one place to another over an obstacle or any size body of water. Whereas a viaduct creates paths through various natural features such as valleys and ravines. And a duck is a bird that is classified as waterfowl. Now let’s tune in to the Marx brothers.

Marx Brothers, “Why a Duck”

Here, the scene picks up with Groucho and Chico discussing items around a table in an exchange loosely based on a comedy film starring the Marx Brothers titled, “The Cocoanuts” (1929). Groucho succeeds in spotting a viaduct on a sand covered map spread out on the table before them. “Here’s a little peninsula and here’s a viaduct leading over to the mainland”. Next to him is Chico playing a gentleman with poor English skills asks, “Why a duck“? Groucho responds, “I’m alright. How are you“? Now repeating, “Here’s a little peninsula. Here’s the local viaduct that leads over to the mainland“. They both point to the map in front of them as Chico asks again, “Why a duck?”

Both brothers banter between barbs, but get nowhere. A frustrated Groucho explains about the viaduct again, “viaduct … it leads to the mainland. Bewildered Chico finally inquired, “Viaduct, why no chicken?” A partially befuddled Groucho now responds, “I don’t know why no chicken. I’m a stranger here myself. All I know is that it’s a viaduct. You try to cross over there a chicken you’ll find out why a duck.”

All five of the Marx Brothers do not create a basketball team, but are five brothers, each one a comedian. In order of their birth, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo displayed their offbeat, hilarious and screwball comedies from 1903 to 1976. During that time period, one or more of them were performing somewhere and we were probably better off with having their shenanigans then not. Whether the quintet was on stage, screen or the radio, and even television, they were highly entertaining.  About the only thing they accomplished in any assemblage of orders was dying. They died in succession as they were hatched. Yes, like a viaduct (duck) is hatched. Ha, Ha, Ha, very funny. Punny?

Many people dealing with mental health issues have problems interpreting, reciting and remembering what others say. A host of different factors could derail the thought process and make tasks more challenging.  When someone hears a phrase that is slightly off center, our minds drift in another direction, which can be left alone incorrectly or altered enough for precise clarity. There is what is actually said and its direct meaning of vague plus ambiguous thoughts and actions can occur. At times, our brain needs clarification, whether it be right or wrong, this often leads to confusion for all concerned. Sometimes when the mind needs simplicity, it asks for other human beings to get involved.

In other situations, command of the language is vital. When a foreigner comes to a new city or town or as big as a new country and does not comprehend, (like above), we ought to explain the best we are able. Maybe have a translator nearby or perhaps the other person has an ability to assist with the actual conversations . The United Nations General Counsel always meets with all participants wearing headphones with pumped in dialog in native languages, so memberships have an easier time understanding. 

However, communication, tone and actual meanings are often lost in translation. When there is no one to help, we do what we can displaying a myriad of pointing and plenty of gestures to help communicate our thoughts and words. However, trying a form of body language to move is definitely not a good idea. An example of this is attempting to play games like Charades is hard, if not futile. From television shows like Star Trek, Generations“, “Resistance is Futile“, often uttered by many of the Borg characters to assimilate change.  Not being able to figure out words while acting them out became almost impossible to enjoy satisfying rounds of Charades.

Modern times lead to modern measures. In these times in the 21st Century, people use cell phones, mini handheld computers and even one’s wristwatch to aid in translating words and phrases from other languages and even some dialects, too. It might not be an exact match, but it can come close. Sometimes it moves the conversations forward, but it can and does make it difficult for context and meanings. 

Many individuals are either hard of hearing or totally deaf which makes it difficult to develop effective and efficient speaking or interpretive skills. Another issue is when individuals hardly speak or do not speak at all. This is when pointing, gesturing and intense body language can be extremely beneficial for interpretation and successful interactions amongst all of us.

Currently, I am reading (on-line) about a teenage fourteen year old boy walking around town who deals with a form of autism. AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD) is a developmental condition involving persistent challenges with social communications, restrictive interests and repetitive behavior. It is not a mental health issue. He is non-verbal, but with the support of his mother he is able to communicate somewhat and is able to appreciate music and outdoor activities. What he can do is bob his head around and try to point to stuff. His mother instructs him to do a chore or two and for the most part completes the task effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, he is never left alone, and is often put in situations that he cannot be accomplish successfully.

Others that cope with mental health issues are likely to receive training/therapy to improve abilities to function better in society. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are two that are commonly used for similar conditions and situations. There are techniques that are used in both, but are also quite different. For further information, please look up each of them.

As one can tell, “The more things change, the more things stay the same”, a proverb originally noted by a French writer, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. It was written in French, back in 1849. Almost 175 years later, these words still ring very, very true. Positive thinking, exercise and continuing to laugh are crucial for all human development and progress. Hopefully, these suggestions can lead towards both physical health plus mental health improvements. Our well-being can surely benefit from this type of boost.

Take care and I will see all in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters.

Repost: Another Voice: To Improve Mental Health, Build The Workforce First

Reposted from NYAPRS –

Another Voice: To Improve Mental Health, Build The Workforce First

By William T. Gettman Jr. Buffalo News OP Ed  August 8, 2023

In her second State of the State, state budget and recent Youth Mental Health Summit, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed significant investments in mental health.

Her proposals ranged from expanding insurance coverage for mental health services to increased capacity for inpatient psychiatric beds. The plan also includes an expansion of outpatient services, payment parity and more wraparound services for people transitioning from one setting to another.

This bold approach and leadership is commendable in light of the growing and well-documented need for mental health services. A recent survey of psychologists reported increases in patients seeking treatment for anxiety, depression and substance-related disorders compared with 2020.

A key factor to the success of many of these initiatives will be the staff to provide those services. These types of professionals can include direct care staff, social workers, mental health counselors, peers, addiction specialists, psychiatrists, nurses, clinical social workers and more.

Key actions for workforce recruitment and retention include:

  • Increasing the reimbursement rates the state offers and incentivizing more provider participation thereby expanding access.
  • Providing adequate and consistent salary and benefit increases for staff to impact retention.
  • Reducing administrative burdens to lessen the time and effort necessary to process documentation.
  • Expanding school-based mental health services in educational settings.
  • Continuing to integrate mental health care within primary care practices.
  • Convening colleges and universities to develop an action plan to increase the recruitment and retention of students.
  • Investing a portion of the budget funds into scholarship, loan forgiveness and paid internships.
  • Develop pipeline actions to support an increase in peer staff to support growing needs.

The goal of our mental health system innovation is to improve the health of every New Yorker.

Infrastructure and innovation are important tools, but the most important part of any mental health care system is the people who deliver that care. We need passionate, talented, well-trained people to implement these ideas. It’s vitally important that we have the right people in place; that is the only way to meet our goals.


Older Adults Matter Too!

From the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors (CLMHD) Newsletter (August 17, 2023)

The pandemic drew a lot of attention to young people’s mental health. But older people have suffered, too. Many are struggling with loneliness, anxiety, or substance abuse. Fewer than half of older adults who need mental health care get it, according to the National Council on Aging. “One reason is that professionals are under-trained to treat the mental health needs of older adults,” says Regina Koepp, a clinical psychologist based in Vermont, and the founder of the Center for Mental Health and Aging. “Many professionals feel quite incompetent and will say that they just don’t treat older adults.” Read more here.

A Guide to Psychiatric Service Dogs

(August 15, 2023) Reposted from ZocDoc article retrieved from 

Animals make up an important part of our families and society at large. Some might think of them as pets, but to some, they help out in more specific ways. Service animals, in particular, are especially integral to a vast majority of people with disabilities by performing an important job and improving their owners’ quality of life. According to the Bureau of Global Public Affairs, more than 500,000 service animals served in these roles in 2016. 

However, other animals may not be categorized as service animals, but they still perform assistance to their owners’ mental health in some capacity. Generally speaking, all of these animals can be noted as “assistance animals.” 

Assistance animals is a broad classification that includes animals that perform a variety of tasks to help in a person’s life. These animals can fit into a few categories.

  • Service animals: These animals are most often dogs, but can also be miniature horses. These animals are recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and are trained to provide a specific task that helps with a diagnosed issue.
  • Emotional support animals: These can be any animal that offers emotional support to a person. Often prescribed by a mental health professional, emotional support animals are recognized by the Fair Housing Act as animals that can live with a resident who needs their services. 
  • Therapy animals: A therapy animal is any animal that provides therapeutic support to a person. These animals are less regulated, as they aren’t officially protected by any federal laws. As such, it is up to individual businesses how they will treat these animals.

Although assistance animals are typically trained to perform a function that benefits their owners’ mental health, they also can bring joy and laughter through everyday interactions — something that all animals can bring to people. 

(Read More)


(August 11, 2023) by Howard Diamond

This is the latest installment of a multipart story by Howard Diamond.
To view the whole story so far, click here.

For one, Ruth had not many changes, due to being similar 

Basically Ruth’s subtle change into a new twelve month cycle seemed similarly eerie to the way her previous twelve had concluded. Although she has a different phone number and new type of answering machine, the mystery man found a way to still make prank calls and texts to Ruth. Each call is practically like the last one, which causes Ruth much discomfort and too much unnecessary stress. On Tuesday the twelfth of January, a few days from now, Ruth has her initial visit for the year with Jane, her therapist.

Back at the diner, Ruth continues to work about three days weekly, twelve to sixteen hours and more when she can. Over the months, she has developed and maintained a few friends plus she has several regular patrons that generally ask only for her. Often she walks up and down the blocks near the diner and beyond. Other times, especially days when not at the diner, she sits in the park or by the lakefront watching various fowl wade in the lake or birds flying around overhead. Apparently, Ruth does relaxation techniques, assorted exercises plus reads short books and magazines in an attempt to keep her calm most of the day. 

In addition, Ruth has made connections with some of the people also living in Generations Housing. Occasionally, they get together outside of the residences, which included spending almost six days over Thanksgiving in a cabin at Pine Woods Lodge, which is approximately fifty miles away from Lake Town. Four young ladies just enjoying relaxing and recreation while being one with nature and animals. They sang along with the folk music and live performances, plus they hiked on various guided wilderness excursions. Two extra special events were the Thanksgiving Feast when they served mounds of turkey with a plethora of sides and desserts. At Saturday Night Barbecue, food included delicacies like hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, corn, nut roasting and smores.  All was elegantly prepared by the Pine Woods Lodge staff and everyone ate like there was no tomorrow. One big rule was posted everywhere plus was strictly enforced by all: No alcohol or smoking was allowed on or in the vicinity of the lodge.

 Besides going to the lodge, when funds were available, Ruth and friends would go for a cheap lunch or dinner, in or near Lake Town. One favorite of the group was the Asian Buffet, which had Chinese, Japanese and other Asian Delights for eight dollars for lunch plus ten dollars for dinner. Friday and Saturday nights were a dollar more. Other haunts were the two Italian Restaurants, Vinny’s Pizzeria, Pasta and More plus Mama Rinaldi. Also there is a good Mediterranean fair called Halal Palace which offers very spicy to extremely bland Islamic and Israeli delicacies from different cultures. Let’s not forget the two diners including the one where Ruth is employed. 

December through April, there was free entertainment at the library, three days a week sponsored by Town Hall. Once or twice a month, there will be live music performed at the one hundred seat theater. Most of these events were free plus no cost transportation was provided door to door from Generations. From May 1 to Thanksgiving, weather permitting, various extravaganzas were held in the park or by the amphitheater by the lakefront. 

The Police Station With Officer Grey, Mary Blackman and Others

Mary Blackman started working at the Police Department when this year got underway and Officer Alex Grey’s day was handled quite efficiently, but the Station was always very busy. This got exceedingly worse with Mary aboard. She meant no harm, but it seemed like Mary questioned almost everything the officers and squad did or said. She tried to assist the Narcotics Unit, but broke the flow of data collected because she thought she knew more than head secretary, Cindy Bradford and Unit Senior Officer Scott Davidson. Naturally, this mostly irritated Officer Grey who had less and less patience for her shenanigans in and around the precinct. Although Mary’s office skills were impeccable, her mannerisms had much to be desired.

Scott Davidson, a twenty eight year veteran and eight year head of the Narcotics Unit of Lake Town Police Department. He is 52, 6 foot about 190 lbs. of solid muscle with short graying strawberry blonde hair and green eyes. Four years prior, Scott’s life changed abruptly when he became a widower when his wife died of secondhand throat cancer and pneumonia. Although she never smoked, her father downed about seventy cigarettes daily. 

Officer Davidson is left with identical twin boys, born Christmas Eve Jason and Lance, 20. They are built like their dad, with darker brown hair and brown eyes. The biggest noticeable difference is that Lance has a full brown beard with longish brown hair while Jason has short, cropped hair and sported a reddish mustache. Currently, Jason is away at Stanford studying criminal law and Lance is studying to be a forensic cop at the local community College in nearby Paramount. His plans for the fall are finishing his undergraduate studies at either New York University in NYC or Duke University in North Carolina. Since being in high school, both of them spent a lot of summer days poking around the police station helping everyone they can.

Cindy Bradford 23, five foot five inches, athletic build, maybe 110 lbs. with longish blonde hair, blue eyes and a nose trained so that it can sniff out illegal drugs anywhere. Not really, plus not big in size, but it has been very accurate in detecting drugs and other narcotics plus being quite proficient in her office procedures. Also, bolstering her credentials,  she graduated from Indiana University last year with a perfect 4.0 in Criminal Justice. Hopefully, in a year or two, she will be attending Law School, and as of this time has applied to approximately a dozen, including Harvard, Columbia and Stanford.  

Generally, most people do not mess with Cindy because of her boyfriend. Chris Reubens, 21, is six foot two inch, 190 lb. brown hair, brown eyed, with broad shoulders and tree trunks for legs. In addition Chris is a two-time college wrestling second place All-American Scholar Athlete. Since his main competitor graduated in December he is positioned to be first place in his weight class. Also in the fall, Chris is scheduled to become the starting half back for his college varsity football team.

Mondays were usually the most hectic days for all the office managers at the Police Station. Mary and Cindy were no different as they had to catch up with the files from the weekend and since it was February 1, all active files needed to be updated and organized according to proper Police procedure. Cindy often helped Mary, and Mary helped Cindy, but each constantly found plenty of ways to complain mightily about the other and the ways situations are handled. Resisting change was never easy for Mary, so frequently she did enough to work with Cindy effectively. Over time all hoped that all will adapt, became more congenial, and would turn slightly calmer at the Police Station. Also, the two attempted to be more friendly, both at work and at play. Both Officer Grey and Officer Davidson can begin noticing the more relaxing environment. At least between the two ladies.

Towards the end of January at Hunter, Holly met with Taylor and discussed preparations for Ruth on Monday and Tuesday, February 8 and 9, because it will be two years since her attack. Taylor suggested that she talk this over with Ruth, but plan to go to her clinic appointment with her therapist, (Jane). By Friday, Holly did connect with Ruth. They agreed to get together on Tuesday February 9 at 4:45 pm, at the Pollock Mental Health Clinic. Then, Ruth called Jane to let her know and Holly found time to do the same.

Several times during this month, Officer Grey and Mary disagreed loudly because each thought they knew best. Neither gave much room for changing their steadfast opinions or perspectives on matters. As Office Manager, Mary knew plenty about the running of those functions, while Officer Grey understood police procedure and all of its nuances. Each time the participants would stand their ground and in the majority of the situations, they agreed to disagree. By month’s end, there was a tiny hint of some compromises in the air, but remained there. Maybe, someday these items will be settled, but no one knows when or how. Both agreed that this was highly critical for the continuity of all the departments. 

Various officers and visitors regularly went into Officer Grey’s room to lodge complaints about Mary. His hope was that in the near future Mary could adapt to the rules and decorum of The Police Department. There is always hope.  Other than her office proficiency, Mary’s best attribute was relating to the possible criminals plus  individuals entering and walking up to her window at the station. Somehow her often loud and her vulgar mouth often found a way to keep the people at ease as she appeared to speak their language. “Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom”.

To download a PDF of just Part 11 click here.
To download a PDF of the full story to date, click here.

Possible Developments Coming, Random Act By a Peer Specialist: PART 12 is arriving here soon.
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island,  New York

National Model Standards for Peer Certification

(August 4, 2023) Reprint from SAMHSA Announcement

Peer Workforce Integration is a Primary Goal of President Biden’s National Mental Health Strategy

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has published National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification (PDF | 840) for substance use, mental health and family peer workers. The national model standards were created to accelerate universal adoption, recognition, and integration of the peer workforce across all elements of the healthcare system.

“Our peer workforce plays a critical role in the treatment and recovery journey for individuals with behavioral health issues,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“These new national standards will help advance President Biden’s strategy to tackle the nation’s behavioral health crisis. We can improve health outcomes for people with behavioral health issues by better integrating the peer workforce into our health care system.

(Read More)