November 1, 2022 (Contributed by Co-Editor Peggy Swarbrick)
National Gratitude Month Take time this month to give thanks for the big and small things that you appreciate. It’s good for your mental health!
Sweet Potato Awareness Month It’s easy to cook sweet potatoes, which are a nutrition powerhouse! Full of vitamins and fiber, they’re sweet and tasty, too. You can just slice them in half and bake them cut side down on a greased pan. Find more info and interesting recipes at the Have a Plant website.
Halloween, nutmeg and pumpkin spice Is that everything that will be nice? Ready once, twice and thrice Can I have that last humble slice?
The grass is green and the sky is blue What are we thinking and going to do? Dogs bark, cats meow and cows moo Are we believing our perceptions to be true?
October is a time for weather to change Are people staring at me cause I’m strange? Temperatures move within a big range Have to alter those ideas and rearrange?
Autumn leaves are blowing far and wide Can we share with those we confide? Driving the roads along the countryside Is our thinking making us decide?
This part of the season changes almost every day Are there still plenty of days to get outside and play? Of course, the colored leaves are in total disarray Is there really anything for me to finally say?
Costumes of various designs line each street Is Halloween still an incredible feat? Neighborhoods come together and meet Please be safe while we trick and treat.
A Halloween Poem by Howard Diamond, Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island
October 24, 2022 (Howard Diamond, Regular Guest Blogger)
“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound“, so begins almost every episode of, “50s, The Adventures of Superman. Of course, this is fiction, but it appears that Superman was a risk taker. As most of us know, he was from another planet, Krypton. Maybe on his planet, it was commonplace, but on Earth each one was a risk. Also, by accomplishing these feats, Superman had dignity from us mere earthlings.
Is there dignity in risk taking by any of us? Does this make us feel better, before, during and after the risk as its climax approaches? At that juncture, are we left with any dignity or was it totally lost? Probably not much, but when one gets an exhilarating feeling then it might have been worth the experience. Dignity of risk refers to the concept of affording a person, including one with a disability, the right (dignity) to take reasonable choices to learn, grow and have a better quality of life.
This concept dignity of risk is understood by most practitioners and peers as the chance, choice, or possibility of someone failing in their goals or capacity to self-manage independently. Contrary to popular belief, more often than not, individuals do succeed, as long the risk is not too strenuous. It means there is a level of self-worth promoted by people when we are left to our own devices to make choices for ourselves. We can call it self-esteem, or self-respect; people generally feel better about ourselves when we are given the opportunity to fail or succeed at whatever it is we are set out to do.
Indisputably, the broad range between disregard and extreme vigilance carries with it has serious implications for both clinical practices and peer specialists in mental health. Even within our personal lives, we have friends and family we care for and we wonder where a specific line in the sand is drawn when it comes to caregiving or caring for a friend or a family member who is struggling to maintain safety living independently. For the majority of psychiatrists, therapists, and peers, the terrain between the two poles of dereliction of duty and overshielding is even more unclear. Sometimes, an in-dispute for all these types of teams, occur with workers from different ethical points of view.
Inherently, there is a major issue with complete autonomy and “free-will” when one is in treatment is twofold:
Treatment is a contract between a provider and participant which carries with it the conjecture of compliance/or active participation in one’s own care.
Without any direction and control from providers, therapists, peers, and psychiatrists will run the risk of being irresponsible or doing malpractice should something unforeseen happen to a client that may have been preventable should the client have been watched more closely during his time in active treatment.
The limits of the law are written and very clear. It is written down on paper and stored on computers, so they are indisputable. Therefore, we must abide by them, whether we are in sessions with our psychiatrists, therapists, peers or we find ourselves in everyday situations. Every state in the United States has a regulatory body that decides where this line is drawn between negligence and dignity of risk for Peer Specialists, Therapists and Psychiatrists.
Peer Specialists also are currently working on actively drawing up plans to manage risk more effectively to reduce the likelihood of harm to clients and us. Due to this, we can collaborate more closely with our professional counterparts. There is very small space between theory and practice is when the line gets unfocused when figuring what to do with a person where their dignity of risk of homicidal or suicidal behavior is unclear or is unable to be assessed.
In situations like this, besides our “gut” feeling on which side of the negligence versus overprotection spectrum do our instincts tell us to decide? What will help us and to inform us of our choice. With the assistance of our supervisors we can make an effective list.
Below are only five:
What will be the alliance between we have with our client What is current “professional” relationship between the client and us What is the trust between the two of us What is the mental status of the individuals What is level of mental distress is seen
*Remembering that Peer Specialists are professionals also.
More importantly, what does it say for us as a practitioner when we make our decision? Are we taking risks by working with others we don’t know? Hey, we take risks by walking out the front door. Common ground is important here to keep the conversation going. Boundaries are crucial and must be set at the beginning so the risks of stepping on stones do not happen regularly and dignity is kept.
Dignity and risk occur often when we are growing in our existence and with our relationships within the human experience. Whether this be a friend, family, co-workers or supervisors, we take many risks which can turn into increased dignity. Be careful when we take risks, but dignity is a good feeling. Occasionally this has happened to me, so take risks and improve our dignity for the days of our lives.
See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters.
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.
October 20, 2022 – Reprint from the N.A.P.S. Webite
National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) writes, “The idea of a ‘national day’ for peer supporters began to take shape at the 2014 Annual International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This day of celebration, recognition, and reflection began when, the then National Director of Peer Support Services with the Veteran’s Administration, Dan O’Brien-Mazza discussed his idea at a membership meeting. His idea sparked much enthusiasm from other iNAPS members.
“We now have Global Peer Support Celebration Day (GPSCD), an annual celebration of peer supporters, peer support, and recognizing their work in helping their peers with mental health, addictions, and or trauma-related challenges move along the continuum of recovery and inclusion into communities of his/her choosing. This annual, worldwide event takes place annually on the third Thursday in October.“
Last year, when I was completing an article, I received an email that the Mental Health Community lost another legend, Steve Harrington from Michigan. His death on November 29, 2021, left me feeling a little empty inside. Steve was one of the founding members and the first Executive Director of the National Association of Peer Supporters. Although we never met, we spoke and emailed each other on numerous occasions until his stroke several years ago back in 2015. After a few times talking and laughing together, he gave this person the inspiration and courage to start writing again. Thank you, Steve.
Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island
The New York State Office of Mental Health is excited to share yet another educational resource available about 988 in New York.
The 988 Brochure contains basic information about 988 including reasons individuals may contact 988, what happens when someone calls, texts, or chats 988, frequently asked questions, and much more! It’s an excellent resource for sharing the basics of 988.
The 988 Brochure has been created with three different cover photos. It can be viewed, downloaded, and printed by visiting the OMH 988 Webpage.
A PDF version of each brochure is available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Korean, Bengali, and Russian on the OMH 988 webpage as well. This resource, and other resources available on the webpage, can be requested in any language that is not already available on New York’s 988 webpage by filling out the 988 Resource Translation Request Form.
Thank you for your continued support of 988 in New York State!
It is February 8 and a few updates have occurred since last written and documented by Jane Frederick, therapist for Ruth Haines. Ruth and Jane have been working together for almost a year due to Ruth being raped and her infant son Gabriel was beaten to death. However, Ruth does not remember much from that time period.
Also, Holly Stephens, Peer Specialist and her supervisor, Taylor Thompson are working with Police Officer Alex Grey to discuss ideas to find Ruth’s attacker. Always vigilant, Holly while assisting others, her main focus was Ruth. Over the past year, Holly has visited Ruth in various locations, including the hospital plus Generations Lodge Respite and Generations Community Residence where Ruth resides presently.
Today Holly scheduled a mental health day because she is emotionally drained from all that has transpired for this year. Although, she had taken four weeks in last year, this was the first day this year. She is very aware what tomorrow is, February 9, the night she met Ruth. During the day, Holly did fun things. During the afternoon, she went ice skating in the park, indulged with some ice cream, went to see a comedy movie and brought pizza home for dinner. For Ruth it was a day like most days. In the morning, she watched old TV game shows, did a group exercise with members of her community residence. After lunch she decided to take a walk to relax some and put on her headphones and listen to music till dinner. Unfortunately, Ruth does have many recollections of what happened a year ago. Tomorrow she has an appointment with Jane and a separate visit with Holly.
February 9, One Year Later
As usual Holly was out of bed by 6:30 am. She took a hot shower because a long, draining day was ahead for her. By 9:00, Holly met two of clients and respective lawyers at the Lake Town County Court Building. One person was accused of throwing a rock through a sporting goods store window and taking money from the cash register. He is claiming innocent and knows who actually committed the crime. His case is scheduled for 9:30. The second case refers to a woman fighting back against her rapist and stabbing him. Time for her preliminary hearing is 11:30. Ironically the two have the same case manager who is on vacation; therefore, Holly was selected.
In the afternoon, Holly had two house visits at 200 and 330. At 5pm, she has a meeting with Ruth. After minor snow event of about an inch or two over this morning, it has turned cold and windy. Holly was taking Ruth to an appointment with a lawyer in the building where Holly used to work. When Ruth went to the fourth floor, Holly decided to go to the second floor and surprise her former supervisor, Steffie Green. Since the end of October, Steffie has been a Supervisor for Broadview Health Services. The two talked for a few minutes and arranged a lunch meeting for the 17th.
Things changed drastically when Holly walked down the corridor. At the door was shaking Ruth. Holly got a couple of chairs and Ruth began to spout out what occurred a year ago. All her memories of that day were beginning to crystallize. Furthermore, Ruth stated that was Holly who made calls so I could get into Generations Lodge the first time. Yes, Ruth I was there to assist. Also, you spoke with the clinic to get me an intake for the following morning. Ten minutes later, Ruth said she was exhausted and wanted to go back to her place. On route, Holly suggested she bring these thoughts to Jane in therapy. Ruth said she will.
More Memories For One, More Information For The Other
A few weeks later, Holly continues to work hard with a very busy work schedule assisting individuals on the road to recovery. According to her supervisor Taylor, she has a male friend that occasionally comes in the office to take her home. To this point, the two men have not met.
Ruth is still seeing Jane for therapy to put her life back together. There has been some additional memories, but none of Gabriel or the night she was attacked. February has turned into March and today on the 20th, spring begins. Doing part of her daily routine, Ruth takes a walk from her community residence into the village. Some of the store windows are reflecting the change in season. One place is scraping off the paint from the glass of snow scenes and the holidays of winter plus the manager stated there will be new paintings that will adorn them by April 1st.
In the corner of Ruth’s eyes she saw a suspicious man lurking across the street. She dipped into the diner to avoid him. It did not appear that he saw her. Tomorrow, Ruth goes to a mental health program and she will talk about this. Also, Marty house manager of Generations Lodge is scheduled and she will tell him. Although Ruth was scared inside, she was able to make it back home.
About an hour later, Marty arrived at Generations and Ruth talked about the incident. She stated that he appeared to be short or tall, very heavy with darkish hair. At every corner he stopped, held on the edge of the store, squatted slightly and looked around up, down several times as if he were expecting something to fall from the sky. When Ruth was finished, Marty asked if he could phone Officer Alex Grey or Jane, or Holly, but Ruth declined. She agreed that they be informed, but I am too tired tonight to see any of them.
Dinner tonight is at six and Ruth is scheduled to set the table for seven residents and three staff. Although, it is only little past four, she set the table anyway. She did not want to talk about earlier and was glad that there will be people around. When Ruth finished, she retired to her bedroom and rested till dinner.
Two days later, Ruth went into the village and ordered an extra cheese and mushroom slice at the pizza place. She faced toward the window and gazed outside. As she was finishing, she saw that man again, this time he was on the same side of the street coming toward the pizza restaurant, but at least three blocks back. Ruth slowly left the restaurant and headed toward home.
That man is still beyond Ruth and basically do the same movements as the other day. Fortunately, she bumped into off-duty Officer Grey who took down her information and accompanied her a few blocks. No longer did she the man following her, so she was able to return to Generations safely. She thanked Officer Grey and smiled at him intensely.
New Memories and a New Breakthrough
On the following day, Ruth spoke to both Jane and Holly. A meeting was set amongst the three for 2pm, Monday. During the session Jane tried to get Ruth to think about who she saw. Her eyes were closed so Jane had Ruth dig deep in her mind. It did not help much, at least for this time. When her experience was over, Ruth said she would do this again.
Then, Jane brought Holly in the room and discussed (of course generally) how Ruth is progressing in therapy. Ruth said that Jane is still assisting with a variety of techniques to help me remember more and more. Added by Jane that Ruth has continued to make it easier for me. She is open to suggestions and ideas to help her. Holly was satisfied and left to see other consumers. Jane called for an insurance paid taxi to take Ruth home.
While Holly was Ruth, Taylor and Assistant Director, Karen Collins met the first candidate for the open Supervisor position. Her name was Anna Mancini, around 5 feet tall, high heels and quite heavy. She had olive complexion with dark brown eyes and grayish dark wavy hair. Anna had ten years’ experience in the field, three of which Supervisor for a children’s program in a neighboring town. Although Anna had not worked with Peers before, she talked a good game and was informed that there will be a second, if not a third interview.
A few days later, Officer Grey phoned Taylor wanting to talk with him. So, Taylor walked over to his secretary, Steve Washington to clear the rest of his schedule. Also, please try to get in touch with Holly and have her meet me at the Police station in an hour. Let me know what she said. Steve finished the letter he was working on, and then phoned Holly. She picked up and informed Steve that she will do her best. To complete everything, Steve phoned Taylor and informed him about Holly.
Waiting for Taylor to arrive, Officer Grey made room in his office. Fifteen minutes later Taylor was at the police station, and they began to talk not knowing if Holly was coming. Yesterday, a new witness named Bill Reynolds was interviewed and thinks he saw what transpired that night.
Minutes later Holly came into the office. Officer Grey continued. When Bill was asked why he did not come forward in almost a year. The witness claimed he was out the country and did not know that there was a rape and a murder. Last week, Bill returned to Lake Town and saw the notice in the newspaper and the local blog.
With that information, Office Grey and staff checked out some of what Bill said. So far, what he stated were accurate and that he was indeed out of the country for the entire year. As far as what Ruth has been telling me; however, we are still checking it out. ALSO, we have talked to some of the shop employees and many have collaborated. No one had gotten a good look or spoken with the mystery man. Let the memory live again.
GOVERNOR HOCHUL ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION FOR CAPITAL REGION SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAM
Capital Connect Aims to Increase Access to Suicide Interventions in Historically Underserved Communities
Office of Mental Health, Department of Labor and Department of Health Collaborate to Reduce Suicides Among Capital Region’s At-Risk Populations
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a $5 million multi-agency pilot program aimed at reducing suicide among vulnerable groups in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Funded through a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the state Office of Mental Health, Capital Connect will utilize data from state agencies and local partners to identify at-risk groups for focused prevention efforts in specific areas and industries in the four-county region. New York is one of only six states to receive the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“While our state’s mental health resources are among the best in the nation, we still lose far too many New Yorkers to suicide each year,” Governor Hochul said. “With a focused approach to prevention, we can better identify groups and industries most at risk and ensure they have access to resources, and this $5 million grant announced today will help us provide critical support and foster connections among vulnerable individuals throughout the Capital Region.”
With the five-year grant, the Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center of New York has partnered with the state Department of Health and state Department of Labor to identify groups and industries most at-risk for suicide. In addition, the agencies will work with schools, county mental health, juvenile justice, local hospital emergency departments and the area’s construction industry to help focus efforts in the four-county area, where suicide attempts and death rates exceed the state average.
The primary goal of Capital Connect is a 10 percent reduction in suicide attempts and deaths among vulnerable groups who have been shown to have disproportionately high rates of suicide attempts. The initiative is part of the Office of Mental Health’s larger goal of reducing mental health disparities in historically underserved communities, including communities of color.
Grant-funded activities in Albany, Troy and Schenectady will increase access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs in underserved communities. These activities will complement ongoing efforts initiated by the Office of Mental Health to reduce disparities, including a suicide prevention pilot program in three Black churches in Albany, Harlem and Rochester.
The success of that program helped secure $1.5 million in funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest source of private suicide prevention research in the nation, and allowed the program to expand to 12 additional Black churches. Also, earlier this year, the Office of Mental Health made $5 million available for suicide prevention programs for underserved populations, including Hispanic/Latino, African American, Asian American, Native American and LGBTQI+ youth and young adults.
The Office of Mental Health utilized surveillance data from the Department of Health to identify two disproportionally affected populations. These groups include adolescents, who have been increasingly treated at emergency departments following suicide attempts, and working-aged men, whose suicide rate is triple that of the general population.
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Research with diverse populations and age groups clearly shows that social connection matters when it comes to our mental well-being. And while there is no one solution to the complex problem of suicide, by working across sectors and using a number of proven strategies supporting healthy social connection, we can make a difference and save lives.”
To support adolescents, the Capital Connect program will partner with schools to provide a structured suicide prevention needs assessment, consultation, and a range of training options. The program will also support expanding and refining e-Connect, an innovative program that screens youth on probation and connects them to mental health care treatment and services.
Likewise, grant-funded activities in the cities of Albany, Troy and Schenectady will increase access to services in communities of color. The pilot program will also help test this model before potentially expanding the approach statewide.
The program will also provide training targeting the local construction industry and financially distressed and newly unemployed individuals, both of whom are known to be at elevated risk. Partnerships developed through the program will also help the Office of Mental Health advance its goal of reducing healthcare disparities in historically underserved communities.
“Hey, over there, that man is pulling that lady by her hair across the avenue”.
“Watch out pastor, those mean guys by the broken window are beating up those women with glass and blood flying everywhere. Someone please call the police”.
Abuse like this need not be commonplace, but unfortunately in today’s society, it is becoming more and more a frequent occurrence. There is never, never an excuse for any of this. Anger, jealousy, alcohol and drugs are not acceptable. In most of these instances, one sad part is little or nothing is being done, which makes the problem escalated even more. Since 1987, October has been designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations around this world-wide problem.
Relationship abuse like above occurs in a wide spectrum of individuals. Whether we are in heterosexual or same-gender relationships, or dating relationships or in a marriage, it makes no difference. Victims and abusers can be male or female or someone with gender identity, white or black or even yellow, be tall as seven feet or five feet or smaller, relationship harm occurs when someone uses these behaviors to actively control and manipulate another person. This type of torment does not only signify that an individual is being hit, punched, kicked or physically injured. A person can be harassed emotionally, which means that another is steering, dominating and exerting undue power over another individual. This may revolve around name-calling, humiliation and threats. People can also be abused sexually in relationships. A woman who is married and has consented to sex in the past can be sexually abused by her husband especially if she does not want to have sexual intercourse and he forces it upon her. Also, the reverse happens.
Some victims of an Abusive Relationship are physically mishandled. One way people excessively mistreat others is through exhibiting dominance, because they want to be the one in total charge of their relationship. They tend to humiliate their partners to reduce their self-worth and exert power. Another way they use their power is to isolate their victims from friends and family. Some people become more vulnerable if they don’t have any support systems around them. Also, abusers tend to scare their victims with threats and an array of intimidation tactics. When the wrongdoer puts the entire blame on the victims, the abused may be made to feel and believe that they are lower than low and are totally worthless.
Many of us wonder why victims of abuse don’t leave their current relationships. One plausible reasoning may be that the victim is in severe danger if they leave the relationship. An offender could seriously hurt the other or any family member, including their children. Another reason that victims stay in their horrible situation is due to some financial reasons. A sufferer may not be able to support themself and their children without money from the perpetrator. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, listen to their reasons for staying in their predicament. Understanding these rationalities can make one a better resource for this person.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship:
According to New Hope, Inc. located around the country, these are some of the warning signs of an Abusive Relationship. One can call New Hope at 800 323 HOPE between 9am and 4pm Monday thru Friday, or visit their website, for more information.
EXTREME JEALOUSY CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ISOLATION BLAMES OTHERS HYPERSENSITIVITY CRUELTY TO CHILDREN AND OR ANIMALS DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE PAST HISTORY OF BATTERY “PLAYFUL” USE OF FORCE OF SEX VERBAL ABUSE USE OF VIOLENCE OR THREAT OF VIOLENCE
WebMD stated that people that were targeted by these controllers and have any connections with them can have dire consequences. They often live with a number of residual problems that can last for years or the rest of their lives. As a result, they can develop some of the following:
Talk to friends and family members about the signs of abuse. Reach out to someone who we believe might be abused by his partner. Give assistance to domestic violence shelters or volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or hotline. If we’re being abused and or want to help others who are being abused, we have several options to think about. Also, if we know about someone in an abusive relationship or dealing with domestic violence or it is happening in our neighborhoods or anywhere else call the police or 911 or call National Domestic Violence at 800 799 SAFE (7233).
See you in the NewsBlogs and Newsletters
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island and is frequent writer for the Virtual Community