LANGUAGE AND ITS POWER        by Howard Diamond

September 8, 2022 (Submitted by Howard Diamond)

product list written on a blackboard
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

Language and power is more than words. Of course, many of us tend to convey ideas best through spoken language using words. There are a host of different ways to show we are using language and it power, including writing, or signing, but most communication comprises facial expressions along with gesturing and physical cues, like the popular saying, “Speaking with our eyes“, a type of body language.

Some people with mental health issues tend to misinterpret what others are doing or saying. In these instances others might assist in clarification for folks. Essentially, language is definitely used to advance all ideas, due to this, it inherently has a power that consciously we are never physically aware of.

In addition, language also has power when it comes to mental health. Any sort of negative language and speaking can halt the progress for mental health wellbeing and conversely, positive language and speaking has the power to move it forward. In addition, language shapes how we see the world. Contrary to what many people had believed for many centuries, especially in the 15th Century, the world is still round. Also, Chicken Little, a fictional character in  children’s books stated, “The sky is falling“. Wherever we are, please
look upwards, and notice the sky is definitely not falling.

Here we will show how language has the power to positively and negatively affect people’s thinking and wellbeing. Any words we might choose and their respective meanings that are affixed to them can influence society, especially with folks with Mental Health Issues. Ultimately, individuals say the power of
language takes a view that language has power of its own. This power allows language to retain its capacity behind it, to unite or divide a group of people or even an entire country.

In my way of thinking, there is no doubt that language has power and wields its mighty arms to everyone and everything everywhere. This is used for a communication device, not only for humans, but the vast array of members of the animal kingdom. Mere mortals like us, use language and its power to share our ideas, thoughts and feelings with others. “Feelings“, has been written and sung by many artists. In Nina Simone’s version she added, “No matter what words men say“, to express feelings of the heart. We often
use language to understand someone else’s experiences and values, and when it comes to people dealing with mental health concerns, the language is valued, too.

Can anyone think of any words or stereotypical language that hurt or label individuals? Also, doesn’t that language used hinder people from achieving and then progressing? These words and language let these human beings to be heard, included and one day be cared for and supported. By using the correct language it reduces the power of others and communicates clearly, respectfully and with hope we all can and will be respected.

Popular song lyrics also show this. In a song from “Carousel” written by the amazing creative duo of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein almost echoes this by ending their song with, “…, Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone, you’ll never walk alone“. Since it was heard on Broadway, over 75 years ago, it has transformed to become an anthem that pulls in our consciousness during periods of strife. Mental Health Issues can be no different and we can champion the cause and move our agenda forward.

Really, all a song is, but a series of lyrics (words) set to music. By utilizing language and its inherent power to make us laugh, cry, and by using our emotions we get ahead. Think about this, language and power shaping
individual and societal progress through strong song lyrics. Hurry everyone, get those boxes of tissues. With a special series of lyrics, we can, “Make Your Own Kind of Music, Sing Your Own Special Song“, just like Mama Cass Elliot belted out in the 60s and 70s. That is why we might need those tissues, whether we are weeping or chuckling, both can often induce tears.

Recently there has been a shift in mental health language. A term people apply is “Lived experience”. All this means is that someone who has had similar situations in our daily life while relating this to a mental health
condition. Fundamentally, the selection of words and language to describe an individual with any type of condition is up to them. Here again, language and its power is reduced. When engaging in a direct conversation with a person or many people we need to be identified by the language or title we feel and are most comfortable with. Significant here is not to use any words or phrases. Simply just ask how each other wants to be addressed.

Understanding language and its potential power is vital for communication in all cultures and includes their religions plus customs. People struggling with mental health issues are often lumped together incorrectly. Each affliction needs to be viewed separately; therefore, each will have their own specific type of language and can spread that power differently. Only put these unique conditions as one, when we are in the commonality of having mental health issues.

 A message to my readersPlease use words and language for only good intentions and spread its power in a positive way to make our Planet Earth is an even better place to live for all, now and forever.

See everyone in the NewsBlogs.

Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island

September Wellness Institute Calendar

September 1, 2022 (Submitted by Peggy Swarbrick and Pat Nemec – co-editors)

Classical Music Month
Many classical pieces are familiar to us—whether
from attending a performance or hearing it as the
background in movies or cartoons. Take time this
month to explore. Performing Arts Music offers a
sample of three pieces and you can find many
more on YouTube, Pandora, or even those extra
channels that come with a cable TV subscription.

Self-Care Awareness Month
Consider all the ways you care for yourself every
day in all of the eight dimensions of wellness.
Keep track of what you do every day and every
week. Pay attention to how you feel when you
challenge your mind, visit with friends, or spend
time outdoors. Plan to do more of what relieves
stress, provides meaning and purpose, and brings
a sense of peace.

Whole Grains Month
Adding whole grains to your regular diet has
proven health benefits. Whole grains have all the
original parts of the grain, whether that’s wheat,
oats, corn, or one of the many other grains. Learn
about how to tell if a product really is whole grain
and how to cook with whole grains.

(Learn More)

©2022 Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Inc. | 11 Spring Street, Freehold, NJ |

In Everlasting Honor and Memory of Sally Zinman


August 29, 2022 (Reposted from NYAPRS E-News)

Sally Zinman

“Sally Zinman, pioneer, activist, writer, artist, leader, and friend of many in the consumer/survivor movement passed away on Thursday. Harvey Rosenthal shared in a post last week, “Given Sally’s steadily declining health, this has not come as a surprise but as a moment of both grief and loss and of gratitude and honoring the beautiful soul and tireless warrior she was for so many years.

“See the photo below of Sally in her prime (on the left) with her fellow pioneers and the ones below demonstrating the dignity and kindness she embodied throughout her life and struggle with cancer.

“Rest in peace and power Sally and know that your legacy of self-empowerment, community organizing and activism….and transformational change and courage, determination and love will go on forever (photos and tribute by Harvey Rosenthal, NYAPRS, August 26, 2022).”

Sally Zinman’s acceptance at the SAMHSA 2016 Voice Award

“We, all of us, have been soldiers in a march towards transformation, from a system based on chronicity to one of recovery.

From a system that decided everything about us without us, to one in which nothing is about us without us.

From a system that considered people with lived experience as not able to run their own lives, to one that values consumer-run programs and peer support.

From a system based on force to one based on choice and self-determination and freedom.

And, from a world that dehumanized and isolated people with lived experience to one that embraces us as neighbors, friends, family members, business colleagues, and every kind of professional.

I remember my feelings as I left my own incarceration almost 40 years ago, and I can remember them today as I am speaking. I wanted to do something about it, so that those who followed me would not
experience the same inhumane treatment as I had. This award is for and because of all those who felt the same way, and did and are doing something about it.

I am truly not standing here alone. I am standing here with and because of them.”

Sally Zinman at the 2016 SAMHSA Choice Awards

Advocates Laud the Life and Legacy of Sally Zinman

NYAPRS Note: Several days ago, I asked people to send in their person thoughts and feelings on the passing of our dear pioneer and friend Sally Zinman. Thanks to all who shared so fully of themselves in the comments that follow.

Sally Zinman, one of the founders of the consumer/survivor movement, helped lead the transformation of mental health care system in the U.S. to focus on choice, self-determination, inclusion, recovery, and peer support. A recipient of many awards, including the SAMHSA lifetime achievement Voice Award and the MHA Clifford Beers award, Sally established one of the first ever peer run service programs, fought for state and National patients’ rights policy and legislation, led the creation of the first statewide peer organization, was a champion of ensuring the full participation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and much more.  Sally was an inspiration and guiding light to so many in creating a just and healing world for people with lived mental health experiences.

Paolo del Vecchio

Sally was a best friend, devoted mother, advocate personified, believer in recovery for all people.  I call up her in my mind.  Her talking and sweet laughter.  Thank you, Sally.

Gayle Bluebird

We’ve lost so many great leaders of our movement! That photo you shared with Jay Mahler, George Ebert, Judi Chamberlin, Ted Chabasinski, and Sally–Ted is the only one still with us. And, of course, we’ve lost many others too, not in the photo

Susan Rogers

When I finally had the chance to meet and connect with Sally Zinman I was grateful to experience her directness and candor. She supported and encouraged me to have a clear voice about our rights issues, especially when I felt hesitant to do so with people in power. She was a powerful example for me as someone who was always willing to do the often thankless, yet groundbreaking work involved in starting new organizations like the Mental Patient Rights Association and California Association of Mental Health Peer Support Organizations.

Chacku Mathai

This is sad news as Sally was a true champion of civil rights. She wisely to set up her predecessors including Andrea Wagner and Mary Hogden at CAMHPRO California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations to take the helm before she left and her legacy continues in good hands. For me personally with discussions with her, she exemplified what is it to be a woman, mother and leader in a movement where she held her own as she encountered resistance on the inside and outside of the group.

Here are some videos of Sally speaking for those who may not be so familiar with her and her work: some videos with Sally:

Sally speaks on the history of the peer movement at the Alternatives Conference (2021) (one hour):

Ann Kasper

Sally was an early leader in the psychiatric survivor movement and inspired many of us along the way. Sally was on the board @ the Bazelon Center for years.  She is one of our Lifetime Achievement awardees this year and we will figure out how to properly honor her at the Awards and beyond. 

Sally Zinman – Clifford W. Beers Award | Mental Health America (

Holly O’Donnell

In January of this year, I visited Sally. I recalled that years ago when I was doing interviews to understand recovery, Sally said her recovery began when she decided she was not Sally Zinman. Her family decided that was a sign that she had a mental health condition and had her locked up. However, years later she could see this assertion that she was not Sally was the beginning of her self-determination and of her recovery of her life, a life that has helped so many find their authentic lives. Though she left this mortal plane 2 days ago, she left knowing who she really was and knowing she made a difference in many peoples’ lives.

Thank you, Sally, you changed my life. I will, like her, never stop fighting for the freedom and rights of people who think differently than the chronically normal. I’m very sad to hear of Sally leaving this reality, and we owe so much to her. Her energy, her clear values, her intelligence were an inspiration to our movement. We miss you and will always remember you and your determination 💕  Dan Fisher

She was an indefatigable leader whose vision and voice rang clear while building coalitions in California and nationwide. She could negotiate for people, using skills to overlook differences when dealing with allies as well as political foes, and could keep her priorities uppermost while promoting empowerment for recovery. Sally’s courage and passion, and the warmth of her humble strength helped inspire an entire movement.”

Phyllis Vine

I always admired Sally’s work and had the privilege to partner on a few things with her. She paved the way for many, including myself.  Much love to Sally Zinman and family.

Oryx Cohen

I will miss Sally so. She was a pioneer in the fight for human rights for the millions of us with psychiatric labels.

Patrick Hendry

I’m saddened to hear of this tremendous loss and only hope that Sally’s courageous spirit lives on in all who knew her, loved her and worked alongside her for human rights!

Chrys Ballerano

Although I only was able to share a few minutes with her in my life, I was very privileged to have been part of her presentations and a workshop.  She truly understood how to live our principles, and her example was a source of inspiration for me.

Jacek Jack Haciak

I am so grateful to have met her in this lifetime.

Latosha Taylor

Very sad to hear of Sally leaving this reality, and we owe so much to her. Her energy, her clear values, her intelligence were an inspiration to our movement. We miss you and will always remember you and your determination 💕

Kevin Fitts

As a mother of our movement, she loved, nurtured and accepted us all regardless of where we stood on the spectrum or survivor to consumer. Sally embodied kindness, compassion and love. But she was also driven by an outrage few of us saw directly, an outrage focused on strategies and solutions rather than breast beating. She wanted to win on behalf of our community and established and led so many successful campaigns, coalitions and programs. She was savvy and shrewd…she didn’t waste time raging at the darkness but looking for the light. She herself was always a beacon of light, she spoke the truth plainly and simply, she was always so humble and never a complainer, even as so many illnesses threatened and eventually took her life from cancer to Covid and many in between. I feel great grief but also great love for her and by extension for all of us.

I asked Sally a few weeks ago about what she saw as our greatest victory and daunting challenge. She celebrated the creation of a movement that transformed lives, services and systems and public policy for decades and, at the same time, deeply yearbed to see our broader community come together and get past our differences…beliefs, personalities and styles…and to keep our eyes on the prize of the quality of human life and the imperative of human rights. Rest in power and much deserved peace my dear friend.

Harvey Rosenthal

Drunk on Too Much Life

Late August Reflections and Happenings

August 28, 2022 (Sascha Altman DuBrul from Underground Transmissions)

Hey friends and allies – welcome to my Underground Transmissions Substack. I hope it reaches your eyes through the ever shifting email filters. All things considered we’ve had a sweet Summer here in Oakland with a garden full of cucumbers and tomatoes and beans and beets (and little baby papayas!) Our twins, Lilah and Silas, just turned one year old and Alice has been working for Morning Edition at NPR as an editor. My therapy practice has been experiencing a Summer Slump because I’m still learning how to run a private practice, so I’m working on doing more outreach to find new clients and I’ll be teaching workshops in the Fall. This newsletter is part of that, please share it with your people!

In this newsletter you will find:

Underground Transmissions is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Upgrade to paid

  • A link to an exciting new documentary I’m featured in with Gabor Mate, Drunk on Too Much Life
  • An announcement for a September Transformative Mental Health Practices (T-MAPs) online workshop which I’d love for you to join!
  • A window into IDHA’s Crisis as Catalyst online training series

(Continue Reading)

Peer Specialists,  What’s In a Name? by Howard Diamond

August 22, 2022 (Submitted by Howard Diamond)

My name is Howard Diamond, I have lived on Long Island for many years and since November, 2017, I have been a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). In addition, I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing Communications. Over the years, while working in the Mental Health Field, I have taken a number of on-line courses and written articles on changing ideas and philosophies of peer support. Also, through my perspectives, I hope to get more respect and gratitude for Peer Specialists plus trying to make it a viable choice as a major in colleges and universities and leading to a justifiable career.   

Due partly as a conclusion of prejudicial and a worldwide opinion, many Peer Specialists around the globe are treated as second hand traditional counselors. In addition, a high percentage are relegated to positions of lower status and lower salaries; even though, we are performing many of the same kind of responsibilities, duties or tasks. We are called Peer Specialists, but is that what we do?

Traditional counseling service agencies seem to have taken over the term, “counselor”. Also, it is frowned upon by others who want to also use this word. Are therapists trying to protect what is believed to be for all
therapists alone? Do counselors think this because of wage or job security? Think about this. Hmm, is this remotely possible?   

As a Peer Specialist, I am concerned about our ever changing name. Some days, we are Peer Specialists, then it is called Peer Supporters. For other instances we use a combination named, Peer Support Specialists. A few years ago, we were identified as Peer Counselors. This discussion sounds
childish and often is petty plus borders on being silly. How can we hope to be unified when we can not pick out our name? We are people first, we will get through this.

Are the populous scared of treating Peer Specialists like professionals? Our sense of reality is that a good percentage of us have several years of actual first-hand experience with mental health concerns. In addition, we have extensive training in peer support methods. Many Peer Specialists are highly educated with undergraduate diplomas from college and universities plus Master Degrees, too. Oh yes, there are Doctors that are peers.  

Since my friend has a background in counseling and therapy, I figured I can pick his brain. He noticed that Peer Specialists use methods that are similar to mental health counselors. Also, he stated that a couple of these are, Client-Centered Therapy and technique of Motivational Interviewing. These approaches are used by many peer supporters who borrow plenty of components and forms of therapy or counseling. So maybe we need to call, Peer Specialists, perhaps Peer Counselors.  A popular baseball expression,
“Call them as we see them”?, reflects some people’s opinion on identifying Peer Specialists.

Client-Centered Therapy or Person-Centered Therapy was developed in the 1940’s by Psychologist and author, Carl Rogers. It is a form of talk therapy. In this approach, we act as an equal partner in the therapy process, while our therapist frequently remains non-directive. These therapists don’t pass many judgements on our feelings plus tend not to offer suggestions or solutions. Rogers also believed that people are the best expert on our lives and experiences. His form of therapy was to allow his clients to fulfill potential by relying on our strength to change. 

Motivational Interviewing is a counseling method developed by two Psychologists, William R Miller and Stephen Rollnick in the 1980’s into the 1990’s. It involves enhancing a person’s motivation to change by
means of four guiding principles. These are expressed by the acronym RULE:                                 

  • Resist the Righting Reflex
  •  Understanding the Person’s Own Motivations
  •  Listen with Compassion
  •  Empower the Person.         

Both therapists and Peer Specialists use these techniques to assist the people they work with. Maybe, this is the push to call Peer Specialists, back to an initial name, Peer Counselors. However, each come from
different frames of reference. While the therapist uses techniques that have worked for people, Peer Specialists use methods that we might have been employed, this way it is first hand knowledge. Also,
Peer Specialists don’t really counsel others, we give others options that have assisted the peer itself.   

Thankfully some professionals are using the preferred terminology, as Peer Specialists. However, I have seen “peer counseling” used in psychiatric rehabilitation textbooks. In fact,  Mary Ellen Copeland, author of “Wellness Recovery Action Plan” continues to use the term,  “peer counseling” in her well known WRAP and her other manuals. Heck, even camp counselors use this term.  Lawyers, too! And many, many others! Then why do Peer Specialists need to do the same? 

As for me, I have very high expectations for the longevity in the profession of Peer Specialist. Since I am a Certified Peer Specialist, my hope is not only this occupation continues to grow, but my wish is that it gets fully recognized by leaders of the Department of Labor and the president. But this all begins with using one unified name, Peer Specialist. Dreaming perhaps, one day we will see a degree in Peer Specialists being learned and taught in colleges and universities by Peer Specialists and that it becomes a viable career path.  

For over twenty-five years, I have worked in the Mental Health Field. All of the names have changed several times and for the forcibly future, I see this happening more. It’s not the title that matters most to me, it is (was) the work that is actually accomplished means more. Unfortunately, due to my nerve damage that has limited me and hard to go to work, I still believe that a Peer is still valuable to the world. Whatever the name used.

See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters.

Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.

Partnership to Help Black New Yorkers Heal from Buffalo Tragedy

August 21, 2021 (Reposted from OMH Diversity and Inclusion Listserv)

NYS Office of Mental Health Launches Partnership to Help Black New Yorkers Heal from Buffalo Tragedy and Increased Rates of Trauma

August 19, 2022

The NYS Office of Mental Health is partnering with the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), Inc. to provide specialized “healing circle” support groups for individuals and families traumatized by the racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo earlier this year and increased incidents of hate crimes in general.  The virtual support groups, known as “Sawubona” provide assistance and support to individuals and families dealing with elevated levels of grief, anxiety and trauma. 

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Sawubona healing circle support groups will be a vital resource to help heal the communities that have been devastated by racial violence. Many families in Buffalo are still understandably anxious, angry and emotionally distraught. OMH has been responding to this trauma with extensive public outreach and coordination of care resources. We are grateful to the Association of Black Psychologists and their help in implementing this innovative, culturally-grounded program to support the needs of people of color across the state.”

Donell L. Barnett, PhD, President of the Association of Black Psychologists, said, “We are excited about this opportunity to partner with OMH to provide needed services and support for Black communities in New York. This is uniquely important given the racial trauma and other challenges the country has taken notice of recently and historically. At a time of increased demand for services and a shortage of mental health providers, having culturally appropriate and culturally accountable services as a part of the array of mental health and wellness services is critically important. The Association of Black Psychologists is glad to partner with New York State in leading the way towards a national model.”

Sawubona Healing Circles is a national program of the Association of Black Psychologists. Sawubona is a Zulu word that means “I see you.” Sawubona Healing Circles are a culturally grounded rapid response intervention model designed to provide coping and wellness strategies in an affirming space for Black people experiencing race-related stress and trauma.

The Black-led healing circles, which are non-clinical, provide culturally relevant ways for people to express thoughts, feelings, and stories in a healing way. Culturally grounded in African-centered practices, the model helps address racial and other forms of trauma in communities of color. If you want to attend a “Sawubona” healing circle, please sign up here

To grow this effort, OMH is looking for New York State residents interested in becoming trained Sawubona Healing Circle facilitators. This is a perfect opportunity for volunteers, retirees, students, advocates, and mental health service providers interested in supporting resilience in the Black community.

If you are interested in this free training opportunity, go to this link and apply

Matthew Canuteson

Pronouns: He, Him, His

Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

New York State Office of Mental Health

44 Holland Ave 2nd Floor

Albany, NY 12229

Feeling stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic? You are not alone. Call the NY Project Hope Emotional Support Helpline 7 days a week, 8am-10pm at 1-844-863-9314 or visit


August 20, 2022

(To start the story from the beginning, click here)

random acts of kindness


Holly Stephens, a Peer Specialist from Hunter Mental Health Center (HMHC) and her supervisor, Taylor Thompson are determined to help Officer Alex Grey in finding out who raped a young mother and her baby. Unfortunately, this rape happened to one of Holly’s previous consumers, Ruth Haines and her less than twelve-month year young child, Gabriel.

As the year began, Holly had returned from spending time with her parents somewhere in the South. In addition, she was surprised by her brother, Andrew who said he would be around for their parents. On the flight back to Lake Town, Andrew decided to accompany Holly for two weeks to check out her town. Since Andrew had never been to her part of the world, he thought this would be an opportune time. Of course, Holly jubilantly agreed. After the two weeks, he would hang out with their folks and get settled with his new job.

Those two weeks were great. Most days it was in the 30s and 40s during daylight plus low 30s and 20s at night. When Holly was not working, they went skating in the park, saw a couple of movies, ate a couple of expensive meals and most importantly enjoyed each other’s company. Is this a new dawning in their familiar relationship? Hey, anything is possible, maybe even probable.


Vacation time is over and it is time to get back to work. Mondays after time away are  extremely difficult. Mounds of paper skew the desk, plethora of phone calls, texts and emails to respond. What is Holly going to do? First, breathing properly would be prudent. Breathe in, hold for five seconds, and slowly breathe out. Before Holly attempted this again, Secretary Steve Washington and supervisor Taylor rang the intercom. Steve typed out the majority of her schedule for Monday and Tuesday.

11 AM           WITH TAYLOR
12:15 PM   LUNCH
3 PM            WITH RUTH

?                   LUNCH WITH TAYLOR

Peer Specialists like Holly often have schedules looking like this, especially when being away for two weeks. Naturally, Holly has other consumers, but Taylor made Ruth as a number one priority. Why is this any different since Ruth’s rape? While Holly was on vacation, Steve Washington took over Ruth’s information and visits were done exclusively by Taylor.

Before meeting with Taylor, Holly caught up on reading notes and going through the paperwork from some of her other clients. Sitting at the next cubicle was Steve typing with extreme tension. Upon completion, he got up and walked over to a startled Holly. Mr. Washington almost six feet tall around 200 lbs., good build, a trimmed brown beard to match his long hair along with deep brown eyes. Steve is also a Peer Specialist, but he mostly is assigned to desk duty due to his issues walking. Also, he often uses braces on his left leg.

Since Holly was waiting for Taylor, with the assistance of Steve, they sifted through the papers that were piled on her desk. Before the meeting, Assistant Director Karen Greene walked into Taylor’s office. She wanted to listen to update on Ms. Haines, of course he agreed. Karen Greene was about 5 foot five 5 inches, 130 lbs., medium length strawberry blonde hair and piercing blue eyes behind wire framed eyeglasses.

Promptly at 11 Taylor called Holly into his office. Cases were updated for Holly and a series of messages were handed to her for response. Lastly, they discussed Ruth. Although she is  still in the hospital, she will soon be discharged back to Generations Lodge. Marty Sinclair said that there might be a bed available by the end of the month. Slowly Ruth memories are being restored and she still will be seeing Jane twice a week. Currently, she is Room 419, not 415. Taylor had a lunch meeting at noon and had to run. Ms. Greene attended the entire time; however, she did not utter a single word.


On this cold, windy afternoon in Lake Town, Holly arrived at the hospital and took the glass elevator to the fourth floor. Before visiting Ruth, her therapist Jane wanted to discuss something with Holly. Jane found a vacant office and they met. First, Jane informed Holly that Ruth is about to have a major breakthrough about the night the two of you met. Also, Ruth describes a newborn with blonde hair and freckles, but she does not make the connection with her own infant son, Gabriel.

Jane and Holly proceeded down the hallway to Room 419. Upon arrival, Jane rapped on the door and told Ruth that she had a visitor. On the television was a soap opera, but Ruth turned it off when Jane entered her room. Becoming more anxious, Ruth wanted to know who the visitor was. Slowly Holly walked in the room. Then, Ruth excitedly stated that you are the Peer Specialist Holly and you are helping me find a new place to live. My therapist mentioned that you have good connections.

Jane excused herself because she had someone else to see. Explaining stuff with Holly, Ruth said that she might be leaving here soon and heading to a place called Generations Lodge. Last week, I was talking with a nice guy named Marty who looked familiar but could not figure out why. He asked me lots of questions and Jane was seated next to me for support. Both you and Jane are calm, quiet plus very helpful. When I leave here, will you come visit me, Holly? Not sure, Ruth, but I will think about it. At that point, Holly left Ruth.

While they were talking, Holly and Jane noticed there was a sort of twinkle in Ruth’s eyes. Neither of them were sure what this meant, or has any significance, but they will check again. Holly went to her next consumer and finished her first day at work of the new year. She was tired, but she got home safe and sound.

Arriving at home, Andrew greeted Holly with a big smile and a huge hug. The siblings exchanged pleasantries and talked about their respective days. While Andrew spent in the morning surfing the internet and in the afternoon in the local library, Holly had a particularly busy day at work. Tomorrow is scheduled to be even more challenging but due to certain confidentiality agreements, Holly could not be specific. Andrew said he understood.

Tonight, Andrew was going to cook Chicken Carbonara with heavy garlic, salad and fresh garlic knots. Dinner will be ready at 7, so Holly had an hour and fifteen to shower and change into some comfortable clothes. Like most evenings at home, Andrew wanted to know more about some of the people Holly works with. Being a Peer Specialist and State Regulations, she cannot discuss anyone. In a generalized fashion she talked about  experiences with Ruth. Over the next couple of hours, they talked about Andrew’s plans for going skating in the park. Around 9:30 pm, Holly vegged in her bedroom, put on some music and tried to relax.


Monday turned into Tuesday as Holly was awakened by alarms at 6am. Regularly, this hour is when Holly gets up. After her morning routine, she grabbed a Boston Creme Donut and left for work. It is around 8:30 at the office, but Taylor has not arrived yet. This gave Holly the opportunity to confirm her appointments for later in the day. Her 2:30 and 3:30 confirmed, but her 4:15 is probably traveling to his place of employment, so Holly left a message.

Shortly after, Steve walked into the office and began talking with Holly. Also, he gave her a few messages, which included one from her 4pm appointment. It stated that he would rather be visited at 4:30pm. Holly thanked Steve and put the papers in her bag to call later.

As usual at 9 Taylor arrived right on time at the office. Taylor was glad that Holly was there before him. Before leaving for the police station, he had to make some administrative phone calls. With traffic, it would take about twenty minutes to drive there, so he had some time. During one of the conversations, he found out that one of the Assistant Peer Supervisors is leaving around later in the year and they are starting a search for a replacement.

While Holly was in the bathroom, Taylor screamed that we are leaving in exactly two minutes. She got her tablet and her notepad and they proceeded to the police station to meet with Officer Grey. On route, Taylor reminded Holly that was an update of their investigation of the rape and murder of an infant. Also in attendance will be the mayor and other local officials plus newspaper reporters, TV and radio personalities, so the conference room will be packed.

Last minute, the venue was changed. Everyone now gathered in the larger auditorium looking room which still was crowded, which was equipped with closed circuit cameras and several microphones. There are aqua colored walls that match one of the colors of the police cars and uniforms. Officer Grey officially began the meeting at 10:15 am. This get-together is an update about the rape of Ruth Haines and the murder of her infant son Gabriel.

After introducing the local assembly member and senator, the mayor, and an assortment of other dignitaries, Office Grey started. To everyone present, the police department is doing what it can to bring justice to Ruth Haines and her infant son. Due to the broken glass all over the apartment, the unknown attacker probably has cuts and visible scars on various places throughout his body. She was confused by what was. From the corner of her eye, Holly noticed Marty, manager of Generations Lodge Respite. Marty told Holly that Ruth had been accepted back to the Generations Lodge Community Residence, which is a block from the Respite. In addition, Holly found out Marty is the House Manager of both the respite and the community residence. Ruth’s tentative date to start is next Tuesday, but she will not be informed until Monday. So, Holly questioned Marty why and he explained that Jane will tell Ruth in my presence and we want to see her reaction. Holly and Marty separated and Holly met with Officer Grey and Taylor.

Also in the crowd, there was a mysterious looking woman. She was wearing a long brown raincoat, with a matching hat, which covered part of her face. Beneath the hat, she had mid-level brown hair. In addition, she apparently had a worried look about her as she quickly paced back and forth. When she sat, her legs kept switching positions and her hands were trembling fiercely. Actually, it was Ruth. It was good that no one recognized her, as she blended in with the mob at the police audience. Ruth was confused and she will discuss this with Jane on Friday.

Officer Grey said the police are getting close to finding out the real suspect. It was my Captain’s opinion that the media not be informed. We hope to bring another suspect next week when we verify some address information. Also, a lineup was requested, but since Ruth does not have full memories, this will not be required, at least for the present time. There were no fingerprints on any blunt instrument, but one shows a small indentation that has not been identified. Everyone agreed to meet at 10am Friday at the Mental Health Clinic.

After it was time for lunch, but Taylor had to cancel because of a staff meeting amongst all the Assistant Supervisors and Supervisors of Peer Specialists. Holly got a sub from one of the chain shops and spent the afternoon with her scheduled consumers. It was a good day and her three pm clients are doing well. Her main concern is still Ruth and the police that are searching for Ruth’s rapist. At that moment, Holly recalled what her dad frequently said, “Patience is a Virtue”.

(To start the story from the beginning, click here)

Random Act By a Peer Specialist:Part V…will be around soon. Keep reading.

See you in the Newsletters and NewsBlogs.

Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island


In Honor of Joyce Wale by Jonathan Edwards

August 18, 2022 (Reposted from NYAPRS ENews)

Gita Enders, Joyce Wale, and Jonathan P. Edwards

The Mental Health Service Delivery and Advocacy Community mourns the loss of Joyce B. Wale, a  pioneer, champion and proponent of peer support and the inclusion of experiential perspectives in facilitating transformation of a treatment-as-usual service model to a recovery-oriented system of care.  Joyce was an active leader known to many of us, passed away suddenly last week after recently retiring from UnitedHealthcare. She also was an active leader and served on a variety of legislative and New York State Committees.

Under her leadership was the implementation of Behavioral Health Expansions, the development of numerous services across the city as well as establishing roles for Peer leadership and innovative programming to promote empowerment among individuals and families accessing services within NYC Health + Hospitals. Joyce was a Fellow with the New York Academy of Medicine and the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Behavioral Healthcare Improvement. 

Among Joyce’s immeasurable contributions was her stellar leadership over several decades of the Office of Behavioral Health, New York City Health + Hospitals, where in 1998 she ensured the hiring of NYC H+H’s first Consumer Affairs Coordinator, Elmer Vasquez. Joyce’s vision for ensuring visibility, a seat at the table, professional growth and development and evidence that recovery is real among people with lived experience was to embed this leadership role within OBH, resulting in Elmer’s three successors, Jonathan P. Edwards (2003-2009), Linda Richard (2010-2012), and currently Gita Enders, Director, Office of Behavioral Health, Consumer Affairs, who assumed the role in 2013.

The impetus for Joyce’s indomitable spirit and resolve to advocate for the rights, recovery capital, and parity for individuals who had previously been deemed “patients” by many practitioners steeped in the hierarchical medical model of care, was to promote the notion of empowerment and the belief that everyone has a voice in their own recovery. The most obvious manifestation of this agenda was H+H’s hiring and deployment of hundreds of Peer Counselors (H+H’s internal labor relations classification for the peer specialist title) and, as far back as 2004, the establishment of Level 1 (entry level), Level 2 (team leader), and Level 3 (Supervising Peer Counselor), introducing a sound mechanism for career ladder opportunities for peer support workers who wanted to advance within the Peer Counselor title.

Jonathan Edwards also offered some personal thoughts:

“Joyce was a staunch change agent whose engine had been fueled more than 25 years ago when she walked on to an inpatient psychiatric unit and overheard staff using disparaging terminology to characterize the personhood and experiences of individuals being “treated” on the unit. 

Some years later, I was fortunate to be in attendance when Joyce received the Mental Health News Education (MHNE) Corporate Leadership Award, NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenberg Pavilion in May 2019 and was privileged to serve the NYC Safety Net Hospital System as the Consumer Affairs lead and internal advocate for six years under Joyce’s leadership. I would be remiss not to pay tribute to Joyce, who hired me when I was returning to the workforce in 2002 after dealing with major depression. Joyce eventually became my biggest champion and cheered me even after I moved on from NYC H+H. We will always value Joyce for her unwavering vision. She was a trailblazer within our community” 

Condolences and sympathy cards can be sent to Family of Joyce Wale at 1110 Bush Circle, Rockaway, NJ 07866

Joyce’s wishes were for any donations to be made to NJ Mental Health Association


August Wellness Institute Calendar

July 29, 2022 (Provided by Peggy Swarbrick)

Monthly Celebrations for August

Happiness Happens Month: 

Established by the Society of Happy People, this month-long celebration is a time to feel good ! Plan to do activities that bring you joy and lift  your mood?

National Win With Civility Month: 

Dr. P. M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, specialized in civility suggests “the quality of our lives depends upon the quality of our relationships.” Remind yourself all month to follow his 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct.

Week 1: August 1-6

August 1-7 

National Bargain Hunting Week: Founded by Debbie Keri-Brown, whose father worked in the garment industry in NYC. She later wrote two books on bargain hunting in Ohio.

August 2 

National Coloring Book Day: Coloring can be a great stress reliever for emotional and intellectual wellness! This day was established by Dover Publications, which offers many options for coloring books!

Week 2: August 7-13

August 7 

Friendship Day: This day was first established by Hallmark Cards, as a special day to appreciate friends. A great idea!  Sending a card, calling, texting, or visiting a friend can strengthen your social wellness

August 8 

National Dollar Day: Spend or save a dollar but, either way, celebrate the day the US established its monetary system in 1786. Here’s a fun activity: Next time you have a one-dollar bill handy, check out Where’s George? You enter the serial number of the bill to see where it’s been and to follow where it goes next!

August 8 

National Zucchini Day: Have you ever grown zucchini? Or had a neighbor with a zucchini patch? If so, you know that they often produce a generous crop! Tom Roy, from Pennsylvania, started the idea for this special day, which he originally called “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night.” Zucchini bread is a delicious way to use up all those extra vegetables! Good for physical wellness!

August 9 

National Book Lovers Day: The origin of this day remains a mystery. Speaking of mysteries, you can probably find one at your local library, along with books on just about any subject. You can get free audiobooks, too. Many libraries can help you download to your smartphone. Strengthens your intellectual wellness!!

(Read More)

My Role: Receiving and Giving Peer Support by Howard Diamond

Submitted on July 28, 2022

man in gray sweater and black pants sitting on purple couch
Photo by cottonbro on

My story here begins in 1983, about two years after my first diagnosis of many, I met someone involved in peer support, named DH.  During this time DH is a professor at a local university, plus his roles at a county multi-faceted Mental Health Agency. Although, he was not a Peer, DH was an advocate for the Peer Movement, so I took his card and thanked him for his encouragement and time.

From 1982 through the present year which included my working at the bank 1986 to 1990, my anxiety spiraled up and down, like a yo-yo. I am diagnosed with social and general anxiety, plus OCD. In addition, I had feelings of extreme hopelessness, helplessness, and a major degree of worthlessness. Most importantly, I never thought of suicide.

In 1986, I began working for a bank as a Loan Processor Trainee. Within a year or so, I was promoted and the “Trainee” was removed from my title. Early in 1987, I was introduced by my supervisor to JG, who had an important position with the bank. Privately, we talked about various mental issues and he said he knew a mental health agency that was in need of volunteers and part time employees. Over the next few years we saw each other periodically.

Later in 1987, JG told me about a friend of his that worked for the agency we discussed several months previously. In addition to his job at the bank, he informed me that he was a board member of that agency. Then, he gave me his friend’s phone number and recommended that I call him. So I called him and his secretary made an interview time that the two of us could meet.

Ironically, he was DH, the man I met back in 1983 and we had seen each other at a conference a year prior. A few weeks later, DH hired me to a volunteer position two nights a week in the agency’s mental health evening clubhouse program. Also, he informed me that there are groups that are being led by people who have “lived experience” with mental health issues, like myself.

(Read More)

See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters.

Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.