The sun slowly rises over the properties tree line where I live. The southern rays quickly heat up this old concrete cinder block house. It’s nice this time of year when there is a chill in the air. I now call anything below 75 degrees a “chill” or “cold.” I still find that funny as a former Bostonian. After twelve years here in Florida, my body has adapted and now: I’m a cold weather wimp.
The weather is nice, and I find myself wanting to get out more. Though I don’t venture too far with my bouts of agoraphobia. This is now compounded with that fact that my truck is dying. Still I like to sit out and enjoy a cup of tea. That too is funny to me. Years ago, I would kick back a brew or have black coffee. Now I drink tea and not much; a few times a week. I find beer, coffee and even tea has an interaction with medication.
As you know (or you should be aware) if you are on any type of medication, there can be positive and negative interactions with food, drink, and other medications we may be prescribed. That is why it’s always a good practice to make sure you update the tech at your Behavioral Health and Counseling Services at your next appointment of any changes.
Mental Well-being: Leave a 30 day Window
Speaking about appointments, here at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, Northside Psychiatric Services and Recovery Center Counseling Services: I got the best advice I when it comes to setting up my next appointment. Because unless I set it the day I’m in the office right then and there, I won’t set it. It is a very positive change; I’ll procrastinate, get side tracked or wait until I run out of meds. Here is the advice, and it’s good and so simple to remember. The staff person at the front desk told me that “the best way to remember when to set an appointment, so that I don’t run out of meds, is call them the day you get your last refill.” GENIUS! That way I have a max buffer of 30 days to be seen…No “YELLING – ugg! I’m down to my last pill and I NEED IT NOW!!!”.
Recall this point and you won’t need to stress out. For mental well-being: remember to call Charlotte Behavioral Health Care to give you a thirty day window of medication from your last refill and the time of your next appointment you are calling to make. (941-639-8300 #5) *Note: in some circumstances if you are an existing client, you may hit the option #6 and talk to your doctor ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) about issues with medications/prescriptions and/or concerns related to your case. www.cbhcfl.org/contact-us
You can sit in the waiting room and hope someone is late, but your wait could be extra-long. How does that expression go? “If you fail to prepare, prepare to sit a long-time in a waiting room.” That is why I’m writing this post right now, in a waiting room, for something I forgot about… At least,the sun was on my face for a bit. I wish I brought a winter coat. It’s like 72 degrees…It’s freezing!Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
PS: One final note -
Don’t expect the doctors to jump too high if they haven’t seen you in a while…NO ONE gets ANY MEDS sight-unseen! It’s policy and it’s a good policy! Besides, this is about Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery and “not slipping one over” on the good doc.
Holiday Anxiety another reason to visit Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. CBHC is a sanctuary and we understand there will be time over the holiday season of elevated anxiety. We would like to make you aware of the follow changes in our schedule this week to ease a bit of that anxiety.Charlotte Behavioral Health Care
*******CLOSED NOVEMBER 28th and 29th *********1700 Education Ave ~ Punta Gorda, FL 33950 (941) 639 – 8300 ~ (941) 639 – 6831 fax
On November 28th and 29th Charlotte Behavioral Health Care will not provide Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or Outpatient Mental Health Care. In observance of the holiday we are giving our Mental Health Professionals and staff a couple days to give thanks. But, we expect a lot of left over pie in the employee lounge in return! Our 24 hour crisis center will remain open:24 Hour Contact Crisis Center (941) 575 – 0222 Recovery Center (941) 347 – 6444
When we have an appointment for our mental health and substance abuse treatment services, how do we get to them?
Did you know every day there are about 15 scheduled drop-offs and pick-ups for one service? More about that later. Let me tell you about the first thing I noticed when I moved to Port Charlotte.
If you moved to Port Charlotte from the big cities, there may be one thing painfully clear to you if do not have a vehicle. Port Charlotte does not have a transit system. No, not one…unlike what I was used to living in Boston, where I could hop on three buses travel 10 miles to the beach for a $buck fifty. Or Just hop on the “T” Orange line to the Red Line and go to Haymarket /Quincy market.
No, you would think you would need wheels, transportation to live here. Yes, without a doubt, having a car or a vehicle does make life easier. However, in my opinion, Charlotte County offers something better than having to wait and wait and wait for a bus just to miss it. Or run as fast as you can to try to catch a bus that’s driving away because you’re running late and buses run on schedule and can’t wait for you. What resources do we have here in Port Charlotte to help consumers get to mental health and substance abuse treatment services appointments on time?
I was talking to Fred McKenna, Transit Operations Supervisor and it turns out Port Charlotte, as I see it, has a chauffeur service, a door-to-door pickup and delivery service. I asked Mr. McKenna if there is a service from Transportation Services Division that assists me in getting to Charlotte Behavioral Health Care appointments?
He kindly sent me this information, along with the photos to use with this blog post. THANK YOU!
The Sunshine Ride program is a door to door transportation service for those unable to provide or purchase their own transportation due to disability, age, living in a rural area or income. Sunshine Ride passengers pay a $1.00 co-payment for each one way trip.
Sunshine Ride serves qualified Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) individuals.CHATO’s NOTES: You have to Apply for this program. Here is info from the site with a link to the application. Depending on available resources, an individual may be eligible for reduced-rate rides if he/she is: Physically or otherwise disabled/60 years of age or older Receiving Medicaid (Download a Medicaid Transportation Application) Qualified as Low Income/Living in a rural area
Sunshine Ride operates Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with limited services on Saturdays.
The Sunshine Ride’s goal is to help you get where you need to go, such as: health care appointments, jobs, school, shopping, and other life-sustaining activities.
CHATO’S NOTE: The Goal of having an appointment for mental health and substance abuse treatment services is a vital part of recovery processes. We want to see you through this process and understand that sometimes finding a ride is challenging. The Sunshine Ride is one public resource that can help us get to our appointments.
The mission of the Sunshine Ride program is to provide safe and reliable transportation to individuals who cannot do so for themselves due to economic, mental, or physical disability. The Transit Division strives to improve quality of life by building a sense of community through connecting neighborhoods.
For more information please call: (941) 575.4000 or go to our website at: www.charlottecountyfl.gov/services/transportation/Pages/Sunshine-Ride.aspx
CHATO’S NOTE: There are some rules, make sure you understand them so there are no mix-ups. SEE: Passenger Rules Booklet pdf
I want to thank once again Mr.Fred McKenna of Transit Operations Supervisor and Human Services Department Transit Division for his time and sharing the photos of the buses. “To Exceed Expectations in the Delivery of Public Services” was the motto in the Email he sent to me, and I believe they are doing their best to prove that true.
Remember the question I asked when we started: Did you know ever day there are about 15 scheduled drop-offs and pick-ups for one service? While Mr.Fred McKenna would never give me the exact data, I was able to confirm that Sunshine Ride schedules about 15 drop-offs and pick-ups to Charlotte Behavioral Health Care DAILY. Sounds like we may have our own bus route and not even know it.Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
In Washington, DC, on November 8, 2013 The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury jointly issued a final rule increasing parity between mental health and substance use disorder benefits and medical/surgical benefits in group and individual health plans.
Parity Rule for Mental Health and Substance final rules requiring insurers to offer the same coverage for mental health disorders AND substance/addictive disorders as they do for physical illness. Is this a good thing for advocates and peers and any users of services? Without a doubt, all mental health advocates, caregivers and individuals receiving services should hail this as a small victory.
Judith Evans, Executive Director of NAMI Florida (www.namiflorida.org) reminds us that “In many ways, our society still treats people with mental illnesses the way it did 100 years ago — locking them up. But their future may be better. Obama administration’s rule on coverage of mental illness, released this week, should go a long way toward implementing the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act. That 2008 law extended mental health benefits on a par with medical benefits, but it was an empty promise until the Affordable Care Act made health insurance available to those who had been denied it before.”
Indeed, this ruling is a win for every mental health advocate since it lifts the shackles off treatment and opens the door to EQUAL treatment. Now peers living with mental health or substance issues will be treated like anyone else. No more high “co-pays, deductibles, and visit limits” or “restrictions for mental health/substance abuse disorders” services. In fact, I envision it becoming like getting a basic health and wellness doctor visit.
We at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care feel the same as NAMI when they say:
“Currently, 60 percent of Americans affected by a mental health condition do not receive treatment. With rules requiring parity, we hope that more Americans will receive the care they need and deserve.” blog.nami.org/2013/11/new-rule-requires-equal-treatment-for.html
Help our teens avoid substance abuse with Drug Free Charlotte County program: “Be the Wall.” This is a home-grown social marketing campaign that asks parents to be clear, be firm and be consistent when it comes to their teens and alcohol.
FRIDAY, November 15th
Time: 9:00 AM to 6:00PMHosted by: Charlotte State Bank & Trust 1100 Tamiami Trail. Port Charlotte 624-5400 Google MAP
Information table and volunteers will be on hand to help parents and teens to learn about the program. All are welcome.
Be the Wall asks parents to:
- Dump old liquor supplies that teens say they most frequently access.
- Keep beer and wine supplies supervised.
- Enforce consequences, should their teen get caught using alcohol.
- Talk to the parents of other teens to make sure they understand your no-drinking rules.
- Make sure your teen is where they say they are going to be.
What is a drug addiction or mental illness advocate? Does it cost money? Do you have to be certified? What kind of schooling do I need before I can start advocating? Is there a difference between an mental health advocate and a self-advocate?
All are very good questions. The simple and short answer is that an advocate (advəkit) a person who publicly supports, champions or recommends a particular cause or even in policy…such as “an advocate of children’s mental health rights.”
The First Step In Advocating Starts With Self
We may lead the fight as a crusader or be the person licking the envelopes with the brochures to mail information to help educate others to the cause. It can be for a large group to stop mental health and substance abuse discrimination and stigma or we could be self-advocates standing up for our own wellness or treatment. Yes, if you ever pleaded with a doctor to try a different medication or treatment, or maybe worked on losing weight or some other wellness goal, then you were already self-advocating. To self-advocate, you need to be aware of your own wellness needs. That is the first step in Advocating…Self-advocating.
Step One: Educate yourself. With substance abuse issues note your triggers, work your plan. With mental health disorders remember, it’s your over-all ability to handle emotional changes and moods in your day-to-day life not just your “diagnosis.” Don’t put all your faith in that one diagnosis, they change sometimes, even though here at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care we have very capable therapists and counseling services. Sometimes we peers may not present with the same “conditions” and “symptoms.” The therapists can only go on what they observe and what we tell them. (View and Download CBHC Brochure PDF)
Step Two: Be willing to talk about your “mental health.” Even the hard to talk about times, can help you remember where you were and how far you have come… even if it’s a few steps, a few baby steps forward is better than where you were. “I remember talking to Dr. Matthews joking because a few years ago when I was first getting services here I presented with Borderline Personality Disorder at one visit, then the next appointment I was back to Bipolar Disorder.”
Step Three: Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If therapy is recommended, ask what kind of therapy, how long it takes, the process and if you need to Google it and research it. If you’re not sure it’s for you, just say no, and you would like to try something different. I once asked one therapist to turn off the soft ocean sound of soothing music he was playing in the background because it was irritating me. He was trying to create an atmosphere of peace but it triggered rage…not every technique works for every individual. The same goes for medication therapy, psychotropic therapy. Ask questions. The three most important questions that you should ask:
- What type of side-effects medications have, go over the simplest… Dry mouth, headache, tummy issues and touch on some of the more important huge weight gain, heart palpitations, tics, sexual side effects? Knowing the side effects of the medication can help you determine a course of action.
- Are there any negative drug interactions? Your therapist should be well aware of every medication and/or supplement that you are taking: prescribed and/or over-the-counter. Right down to you eye drops. Drug interactions can amplify negative side-effects.
- The cost? – without insurance medications can take huge part of your salary. There are alternatives, ask for generic prescriptions (while not always strongest or best to go) or you can look into programs that the pharmaceutical companies might sponsor.
What about being a drug addiction or mental illness advocate?
The good news is being a drug abuse addiction or mental illness advocate does not require you to be an addict or to have a mental health disorder. It does NOT cost money and you Do NOT need to be certified. What is needed: the desire and willingness to try to make a difference, to lend your voice in ending discrimination and stigma against mental illness! You don’t need a placard or sign while marching around screaming slogans or a battle cry. Just make one effort each day to educate someone about mental illness. Even if that person is you. By doing that, and that alone, makes you an advocate. 1000 voices whispering “stop mental illness discrimination and stigma” is still going to be heard loudly. Join your voice, even if it’s a whisper, an e-mail, a tweet, a share.
“The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.”*
On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law ( Note: this was the second piece of October 24, 1963 ) the Community Mental Health Act to federally fund community mental health centers and research facilities devoted to the treatment of mental illness. It was the last legislation President Kennedy signed into law.
President John F. Kennedy seemed to have deep empathy and was willing to brave the “New Frontier” with the community Mental Health Act. JFK was the first to launch his administration to publicly acknowledge “intellectual disability” (Psychological Disorders/Mental Disorder). In the 60′s, this was a neglected issue and he seemed to have high hopes for the Legislation for Mental Health Care Act.
The 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act gives our community the occasion to celebrate a vision for behavioral health that has been 50 years in the making. This was a bold new approach to mental health, one in which custodial care would be replaced by an open warmth of the communities. “JFK established a vision we still strive to fully realize today — to create a community focused on prevention, treatment, education, and recovery.” says Jessica Boles, Director of Marketing at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care.
In the past 50 years, new medications, psychotherapies, peer support, and other treatment technologies have dramatically expanded the ability to treat a range of conditions. And today, more people with mental illnesses get treated than at any other time in history — mostly in community settings.
Yet, while science and public policy have taken giant leaps since 1963, as JFK warned, “The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.”
Patrick Kennedy, who has formed The Kennedy Forum to create a national conversation on mental health and addictions, said in a recent National Council for Behavioral Health blog article, “The intent and energy behind the Community Mental Health Act diminished in the years following JFK’s untimely death. The money didn’t follow patients from institutions to the community, as he envisioned. While we’ve provided community and family-based treatment for many, we haven’t been able to make it a reality for all who need it.”
Fifty years ago, President Kennedy said, “The new frontier is here, whether we seek it or not.” He described it as one of “unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.” In the new frontier, mental health and addictions treatment has parity with all other healthcare treatments. The Affordable Care Act is expanding mental health and addiction benefits to 62 million Americans. This will accelerate an already growing demand for behavioral health services and for care on request.
“Charlotte Behavioral Health Care looks forward to working with its legislators and the community to achieve the full promise of the Community Mental Health Act”, Boles says.
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is your local private non-profit agency providing behavioral health, recovery support, crisis and addiction services to adults, adolescents and children in Charlotte County. Since opening our doors in 1969, we have over 40 years of experience serving over 10,000 Charlotte County resident a year, many of which are children.~~~~ *“The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.” – Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles July 15, 1960 Note: The second piece of legislation, approved on October 31, 1963, provided funding for the construction
What is the Legislation Community Mental Health Care Act?
It’s been fifty (50) years since President John F. Kennedy’s Community Mental Health Care Act was signed. Over that time, there have been periods of hope…What is this Legislation?
It transformed how we (people living with mental illness) receive services and treatments here in the States. “It was the country’s boldest attempt to bring mental health care into the modern era by moving people out of inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and put them back in the community where they belong, making mental health care affordable and readily available to all Americans,” says Dr. John Grohol, Founder & CEO of Psych Central.
President John F. Kennedy seemed to have deep empathy and was willing to brave the “New Frontier” with the community Mental Health Act. JFK was the first to launch his administration to publicly acknowledge “intellectual disability” (Psychological Disorders/Mental Disorder). In the 60′s, this was a neglected issue and he seemed to have high hopes for the Legislation for Mental Health Care Act. JFK had family with “intellectual disability” and as we know now, there were some suffering in his family.
“On October 24, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendment to the Social Security Act, the first major legislation to combat mental illness and retardation.” – JFK Library Intellectual Disabilities
Community Mental Health Care Act Ground Breaking
Ground breaking it was for the mentally ill! What an incredible win for our peers of that era in the 60′s–of a time when a dark cloud and horrifying barbarism including government approved lobotomies, forced (old style ECT) electroconvulsive therapy* to name a few so-called treatments that were used. It still gives you the chills just thinking about the conditions of the past and how much stigma of today is rooted in the stereotypes of yesteryear. In 1963, for the mentally ill, things were going to get better…that was a JFK dream. In his speech to congress:
“This situation has been tolerated far too long. It has troubled our national conscience–but only as a problem unpleasant to mention, easy to postpone, and despairing of solution. The Federal government, despite the nationwide impact of the problem, has largely left the solutions up to the States. The States have depended on custodial hospitals and homes. Many such hospitals and homes have been shamefully understaffed, overcrowded institutions from which death too often provided the only firm hope of release…“ americamagazine.org/node/127216
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care History
What happened next? Would communities step up and take on mental health services and offer affordable services for community members?
We are very fortunate to have CBHC! Did you know? It was Chartered in June, 1968 through the efforts of the Mental Health Association of Charlotte County and Mrs. Leona Vrancken. Thank You Mrs. Vrancken!
In June 1969, Charlotte Community Mental Health Services (Charlotte Behavioral Health Care) began offering services with a small staff of 7 – 5 therapists and 2 support staff and a simple mission – “to provide free or low cost mental health services to the residents of Charlotte County.” – CBHC History
Flash forward- TODAY- If not for JFK’s legislation, we might not have CBHC and I probably would be writing this from a state psychiatric hospital…(no scratch that–they probably wouldn’t allow use of the computer, too many sharp edges.) We might not have the funding JFK had hoped and we may not have realized his vision* for communities to have enough funding for sustainability. Instead, you have a Mental Health Care Act that is now 50 years old and has no teeth! But WE have CBHC and that is something for which I’m am personally thankful.
People are suffering every day not being able to get the help they need. They can only get the help that is funded. I will repeat: they only get the help that is funded! It is how it has been for 50 years! Is change coming? Will it take another 50 years to figure out?
How is Charlotte Behavioral Health Care doing on the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Care Act?
Read an article that ran in the Charlotte Sun on Sunday, October 13, 2013 titled Jails Pay The Price For State’s Poor Mental Health Policy to get that answer.Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador ~~~~~~~~~~~ * Reference To learn more about “Kennedy’s Vision For Mental Health Never Realized in USA TODAY www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/20/kennedys-vision-mental-health/3100001/ *NOTE: ECT from the 1930′s is nothing like today’s ECT.
My name is Chato Stewart and I lived with Bipolar Disorder so when I write, understand I write from my own experience.
A Twisted Delusional Argument
During a mental health crisis I’m driven to a breaking point… and you snap! To put it bluntly, I just don’t care about anything or anyone at the height of crisis.
Sure a twisted argument “could” be made: that some people like me living with mental disorders or moods disorder believe without us around, our family is better off and will be happier. During this mental health crisis, our own mind is tricking us. Playing us the “fool” to end our lives as if that is going to help our family is a bazaar way. That is just dark delusional thinking!
NEVER has destroying family bonds through suicide brought a family together! Never has it brought happiness or benefits without you! (I just needed to put that out there.)
You may have a moment of clarity and this is what you can do – Call for help.*
Crisis Call to Action
Make a Call: Please call our 24-Hour Crisis Line 941-575-0222.
The line goes directly to the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) and is a 24-hour, seven days a week facility that provides interventions to those who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Whomever picks up the line is professionally trained to help and can assist you in determining your best course of action during the crisis.
Help Me – NOW WHAT?
Be prepared to give your name and maybe some other information. It is NEEDED to help the caller in crisis; that is all. They don’t have Caller ID or any way to track the phone caller who you are. They want to help you and you called so, you want help.
Some of us deal with suicidal ideation, like my-self, where daily I would have issues with the macabre. Some days because of some meds, I would get really bad bouts. Other times not so much, but when talking about the issue–I always found comfort and grounded my feet in reality! It was my way to pull myself back together and move forward. Realizing that it was symptomatic of my “condition” also enhanced due to meds (Thanks Dr. Matthews for changing and working with me on my med management!)…it eventually helped me get past that dark period. Did I need the CSU each time – No.
However, my situation always is different from your situation because we are all unique. Calling the crisis line and talking to a professional staff member at the crisis center WILL help you. Even if your next course of action may be setting an appointment with your regular doctor you see at CBHC or you and/or a family/friend driving down and dropping you off at the Crisis Unit (open 24 hours a day) or calling 911 and asking for a ride to be admitted voluntarily due to a crisis: is worth the call for help.
Whatever the Mental Health Crisis, knowing your options can save your life! Even if it is as simple as making a phone call: 941-575-0222Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
*NOTE: Not every mental health crisis requires hospitalization. This post heights Individuals that are admitted voluntary or involuntary under the Baker Act, and are potentially at risk to themselves or others.
As a father of four (ages 8 to 14) and living with bipolar disorder I have always worried about the “genetics” of my disorder. My family history is riddled with mental health diagnosis’s with my mother’s major depression and anxiety and my father’s bipolar (uncontrolled until a few years before he died at 63 in 1996). I look at my kids and I have to wonder will they get it too? I then question what is normal “kid behavior” and what are real serious signs of troubles with their emotions and their feelings? When it is time to intervene and seek out a Charlotte Behavioral Health Care’s therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist? That’s when I thought I would put my mind to ease and ask one of the Licensed Psychologist’s at CBHC.
Ask A Therapist
I asked Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D. the Director, Outpatient and Community Based Services at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care a few questions.
Chato Stewart: What is normal “kid behavior” and what are real serious signs of troubles with their emotions and their feelings?
Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D.: “Normal” behavior in kids covers a wide range of emotional, behavioral and social functioning and depends upon so many different issues. [To name just a few: age, temperament, personality, IQ, learning skills, culture, peers, medical problems, family dynamics, current stresses in the family.] Kids are individuals and they are all different! Parents may learn of concerns about their children in many different ways — from teachers, caregivers, coaches, physicians or friends and relatives. Because parents usually know their kids better than anyone, the concerns expressed by others may mirror what is in the parent’s own heart. Kids “talk” to us with their behaviors, especially younger children, so changes in behavior are often an indicator that a child is also struggling emotionally or socially.
Chato Stewart: When is it time to intervene and seek out a CBHC therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist?
Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D.: So start by talking with your child, asking them to describe what is going on in their own words. If you are seeing a significant change from previous behaviors, or withdrawal from friends, family and activities, or a change from being an A student to failing, or ongoing refusal to attend school, or self-injurious behaviors, these may all be indications that professional assistance is needed. Any change in behavior, mood, or functioning may be an indication for an assessment. Early intervention is important, once a parent notices their child having some type of persistent difficulty. Anna Freud wrote about “developmental lines,” meaning that a child’s development progresses at different rates in different areas. She identified that lagging in one area may “snowball” into problems in another area. So this may be the time to seek professional assistance. At CBHC, when a parent calls, we usually start by scheduling a Mental Health Assessment with one of our Masters’ Level therapy staff. Many children and teens can be successfully treated in six to 10 sessions of individual/family therapy and soon be back in the groove!
Chato Stewart: Thanks Molly for helping us out!
Send your questions you would like us to blog about to: firstname.lastname@example.org