As a peer support specialist I find great comfort in the connections that I make working with consumers. That shared experience is so valuable in being able to relate to each other, when it feels that there is no one else could possibly understand what you are going through. To know that another person has been there and will not judge you, can provide some relief to the isolating effects that mental health symptoms can give. I firmly believe that I am not alone anymore because I am a member of my mental health community. Through this community I have become stronger and recognized the importance of seeing recovery from multiple perspectives.
Learning about perspective was a difficult experience for me. As a seasoned “self preservationist” I have always been slightly self -centered, mostly as a coping skill to protect myself. I did not think about how other people felt, I could only see my own pain. Not good qualities for an effective peer. Little did I know that I would soon begin a new adventure with the most unlikely of company.
My beautiful son.
When I was younger I did not want to have children. I was afraid that I would not be a competent parent because of my symptoms or worse; to have them taken away because I had a mental illness. I am happy to tell you that I was wrong; having my son has enriched my life in ways that I did not expect. Becoming a mother has been an amazing odyssey; it has taught me more about myself and how I look at the world.
As a single mother I have had challenges, however I quickly learned to re-frame these into ways I could teach my son to see value in every opportunity and correlate them to mental health recovery. I would like to share some of what I have learned. Whether you are a parent or not, these tips can be beneficial to ones mental health recovery and I use them in the support groups I facilitate:
Recognize your strengths
When you are struggling with a mental illness, your strengths are the last thing on your mind. Make a list of things you like about yourself or areas you excel. You can ask for help in the other areas you need support.
Support not solve
It’s easy to want to just fix a problem for someone as a way to support but remember the old saying “Give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; you feed him for a lifetime.” The same can be said for mental health recovery; supporting people in empowering their own recovery and wellness has more impact when it comes from within them.
Self care is essential to maintaining wellness
Don’t over extend yourself beyond your limits. Create a daily maintenance list to help you keep track of all of the things you need to do in order to stay well and to work on the areas that need extra support.
Language influences how we see ourselves
When I meet people for the first time as a peer specialist I always say; “I am not my diagnosis” which I absolutely believe. However it wasn’t until about two years ago I realized just how deeply this phrase affected how I look at my perspective. I was disciplining my son because he took something that didn’t belong to him and he asked me, “Mommy am I bad?” I thought about what I would want someone to say to me. Am I a product of the choice I have made? Do my choices define me as a person? I told him that he is just a person, that people can make choices, sometimes those choices have positive and negative consequences. And if we are lucky we can find value even in our less than successful experiences.
I am grateful for these observations that I have gleaned in my time so far as a mother but I think it’s important to note that being a mother also does not define me as well. Being a parent dealing with mental illness can be all-consuming, it can make you feel like you are losing your identity. Making time for yourself strengthens your recovery and enhances the health and well being of the entire family.
How does social worker and Little League coach Aaron Parker teach his team to make good choices on and off the field? By using evidence-based principles from UW School of Social Work’s Communities in Action initiative. Your support makes it possible to help more youth adopt healthy behaviors for life.
You can watch a video of THS Branch Manager Aaron Parker in action with his Little League team here.
Click here to learn more about the University of Washington School of Social Work and the Communities that Care program.
Experts overwhelmingly agree that getting therapy is the best way to manage a mental illness, depression, anxiety and trauma. Yet research shows the negative attitudes about mental health, both self-imposed and from others, can prevent people from seeking support. May is National Mental Health Month, click here for some compelling facts about the prevalence of mental health conditions in the U.S.
Check out our new THS Adult and Youth Program brochures.
To view or download a copy:
Click HERE for the Adult Programs Brochure.
Click HERE for the Youth Programs brochure.
On Oct. 16, 2000, King County, Washington, passed the nation’s first ordinance requiring assessments of public mental health facilities to determine what percentage of patients are “getting well.”
The law was originated, in part, by actress Margot Kidder of Lois Lane fame in the film Superman. Kidder experienced many years of psychiatric treatment for “manic depression,” culminating in a highly public collapse reported widely in the media. Kidder was then treated with nutritional methods and her lifelong battle with mental troubles ended.
After personally experiencing the benefit of being cured or “getting well,” Kidder felt the need to urge King County council members to consider adopting this standard for all King County residents. The council concurred.
Assessment of the current treatment outcomes in King County revealed that last year only 5% of treated mental health patients could be classified as “well.”
The ordinance puts tremendous pressure on King County Mental Health officials to adopt treatments that cure or directly treat, rather than mask, severe mental symptoms. According to Merrily Manthy, who helped write the ordinance, “Present treatments for the mentally ill have generally disappointing results and are characterized as high cost Band-Aids.”
The ordinance defines “well” and “wellness.” Being “well” means, by definition, a client who is free of disability, employable, connected with friends and family; and has a generally positive outlook on life. If the person is taking medications or nutritional supplements, then the client must also be free of adverse side effects.
If the person is in the age range of 21-59 years, “wellness” includes being engaged in volunteer work, pursuing educational or vocational degrees, or contributing to family support. A client in that same age range lives independently or has chosen other living arrangements to facilitate the client’s activities with respect to volunteerism, education, work or family. Being “well” means that an adult client is not receiving publicly funded mental treatment except for occasional recommended periodic checkups, and has been discharged from the county’s mental health system.
Tarena Lofton Susanna Harris was sitting in her lab class for her graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she received an email that told her she had failed what she describes as “the most important exam in grad school,” the doctoral qualifying exam. She took the rest of the day off, went home and baked cookies. Harris continued with her regular schedule: lab, work, home, repeat. Everything seemed fine until she realized she was more..
Monday, November 18, 20196:00 – 8:30 p.m. Seattle Center Exhibition Hall – 301 Mercer St, SeattleFree and Open to AllRegistration opens in September. King County’s 2019 Behavioral Health Legislative forum will include: Opportunities for community members to connect with legislators and county councilmembers before the program. Remarks by King County Executive Dow Constantine. King County’s proposed behavioral health legislative priorities for 2020. Compelling personal stories from individuals in behavioral health recovery. The perspectives and priorities of legislators and county councilmembers. more..
Our own Dr. Susan Caverly has once again been named as a “Top Doctor” in the area of Addiction Medicine – Psychiatry by Seattle Met magazine. Congratulations Dr. Caverly on this achievement and the well-deserved recognition for the quality of care you deliver to our patients!
Care isn’t a cure, it’s a process. A person in care has to go through many challenges in treatment. Trauma-Informed Care and “Seeking Safety” helps guide care to ensure patients can recover and move toward leading better lives.
We want to share Royale’s story with you. Royale was a client of our Youth and Families program. His story, in turning his life around, is a bright light that we hope brings you a smile. We serve many young people like Royale and we hope to share more stories like his with you in the coming year. Please consider making a gift today to ensure we can continue lighting up lives like Royale’s. Support Patients Like Royale Please consider more..
Your Information. Your Rights. Our Responsibilities. This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed, as well as your rights regarding this information and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully. Effective Date: Jan 1, 2018 Your Rights You have the right to: Get a copy of your paper or electronic medical record Correct your paper or electronic medical record Request confidential communication Ask us to limit the information we share more..
Veggie Tails and Honesty When my daughter was younger, she’d love to watch Veggie Tales. I had a copy of one of her favorite VT videos. The title: Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer space. The premise of the storyline focused on dishonesty vs. honesty. Each time Jr. Asparagus told a lie, the character Fib grew larger and larger. At the end, Fib became quite big and caused trouble for Jr. Asparagus. It was only when Jr. Asparagus realized he more..
September is the month for National Suicide Prevention and National Recovery Therapeutic Health Services provides therapeutic approaches to assist individuals with substance use disorder, mental health related issues, and provides our patients with resources to assist in their recovery efforts. As an agency, THS promotes awareness, prevention, and advocacy when it comes to Suicide, Mental Health related issues, and Substance use disorders. Our clinical staff are trained to assess and work with patients who present with suicidal ideation. For the more..
Join Team Happy Feet at the 2018 NAMI Walk THS is proud to support the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the 2018 NAMI Walk. Head to Marina Park in Kirkland on June 2nd and join other THS supporters in raising funds for a worthy cause. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk starts at 9. Visit https://www.namiwalks.org/team/teamhappyfeat to register.