Charlotte County NAMI

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 @ 10:12 AM
Author: Charlotte Behavioral

The Charlotte County NAMI is now up and running with monthly peer and family support groups! The next meeting is December 9th.


Dear NAMI Charlotte County Updates,

NAMI Charlotte County will hold its December meeting and its peer and family support groups on December 9 at 7 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building at 1532 Forrest Nelson Blvd. in Port Charlotte.  We will go directly into support groups at 7 PM then meet back together at 8 PM for committee reports.  Please come and bring a friend!


7 PM

  • Welcome
  • Short Announcements
  • Review NAMI Guidelines and Principles of Support.


  • Break into 2 groups for discussion
    • Peer Group
    • Family Group


  • Committees Reports


  • Adjourn / End

Be thinking about whether you would be willing to serve on a committee – Advocacy, IT, Fundraising, Public Relations, Hospitality, or Education.

We look forward to seeing you on December 9.  BRING A FRIEND!

Karen Clark
President, NAMI Charlotte County
Mike Herman
Co-President, NAMI Charlotte County

National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-profit organization whose membership is dedicated to the welfare of persons with serious mental illness.

Re-Published with the Permission of the Florida Weekly: Issues 2014-10-30 / Arts & Entertainment News: Foundation_awards_proceeds_of_Summer_Ball_to_CBHC

Celebrating the presentation of Summer Ball proceeds were committee members and CBHC staffers Paul Lioon, Jay Glynn, Ashley Maher, Cathi Dryburgh, Bob Dickinson, Miranda Fields, Liz Green, Jessica Boles, Donna Worthley, Sushila Cherian and Keith Callaghan.

The Fred Lang Foundation awarded Charlotte Behavioral Health Care with a $30,000 grant to be utilized for children, adolescents and family services. Donna Worthley, president of the foundation, presented the grant to CBHC CEO Jay Glynn. This grant was possible due to the generosity of those sponsoring and attending the 11th annual Summer Ball.

A portion of this year’s grant will be applied to Charlotte Behavioral Health Care’s specialty program Art & Soul Summer Camp. This program allows 25 children seen at CBHC to attend summer camp for expressive arts and dance.

The remaining portion of the grant will be used for funding a part-time children’s therapist dedicated to child/adolescent crisis stabilization at CBHC’s CSU, providing evaluation and therapy, medication management and monitoring.

“We are fortunate that the Fred Lang Foundation continues to support CBHC and allows us to add services for children and adolescents,” said Jessica Boles, director of public relations at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. “The dollars raised go a long way. Year after year, the foundation makes a valuable investment in our community’s future. That commitment will pay off in Charlotte County for years to come.”

Sponsorships are now being accepted for the 12th annual Summer Ball, which is planned for July 25, 2015, at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center. For information about this and other gifts and contributions, call Ms. Boles at 347-6407.

Copyright © 2007—2014 Florida Media Group LLC.

Are The Mentally Ill Bad Parents?

Monday, November 3, 2014 @ 02:11 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart kidsIf You Think You’re a Great Parent, then Your Focus is on the Wrong Family Member!

Many parents, okay, most parents work very hard to provide financially, emotionally, spiritually for their kids. Every parent wants to give their kid “a better life then they had,” right?  Yet, families today are facing more economic, emotional and hardships than ever before.  It kind of reminds me of a part of a wise proverb that goes something like “you will ALWAYS have the poor.”
Well, we do have a lot of economic challenges, especially for peers living with mental health disorders. But does that make us a bad parent…are poor people, mentally ill people bad parents?  NO!  If you’re parenting and it’s all about you and you neglect your kids, or if you just neglect your kids’ basic needs…then, you could be considered a bad parent.
Parenting is a learned skill, one that may be passed along with many, many inconsistencies inaccuracies and terms like “well that’s what my mother used to to do and I’m fine,” or “my father did that and we turned out great…” We will defend Mom and Dad’s parenting style tooth and bone, but sometimes: we need to break some very unproductive cycles to make the family run smoothly.
NOTE: not every family will be like Bill Cosby’s “Huxtables” or any other 30 minute show that has a loving Mother and Father.  IN 2014, the family dis-unity  has added to the stress that is breaking down our civilization to barbaric forms of communication:
  • We write on walls to talk to friends. (Facebook)
  • Yes use carrier pigeon to send short messages. (Twitter)
  • We use a cork board to show photos (Pinterest)
All the tech that has meant to bring families together is in fact pushing us apart. The mounting bills just to stay a float keeps many of us living pay check to pay check. There is a loss of family time, when you’re dealing with trying to get well mentally.  You could even lose your family in the process.

What Can We Do to Save our Family or Re-Connect with Them?

What am I providing for my family? Living with Bipolar Disorder, and having experienced crashes that have landed me hospitalized in the paste, and many that should have had me in the CSU….It makes me worried if I can maintiain balance and keep a safe haven of love and understanding in my own home?
As you know, needs and wants are two different things. How much financially does any family need to be happy?
  • We all find happiness when our basic needs are met like food, clothing, shelter. But, when is enough really enough or too much? My wife feels that the more you have, the more you have to take care of and worry about. All families need to find contentment and appreciation for what they already have. Many in our global family suffer without even basic things like enough food or clean water. Here in the States, we may be accustomed to a luxurious standard of living in comparison to other countries. Media constantly bombard parents and kids with the latest items… everyone “needs” to run out and purchase these latest trending items to: be happy, feel beautiful, be young or to keep up with the Jones. Over-consumerism is destroying our planet and sadly, some families too.
  • Providing for my family is important to me as a husband and father. I realize that I also need to make sure my family’s mental, emotional health is provided for as well. Each parent needs to consider what may be positively or negatively impacting the mental health of their children. Spending lots of time obtaining the latest device or new piece of clothing and spending less time communicating with my family…can have a negative impact.
  • Having dinner (or at least one meal) together if possible daily as a family can help me as a Father/Parent/Husband communicate with my family to check-in and find out how everyone is feeling and doing. Each family needs a safe environment emotionally in order to thrive mentally.
  • Kids need more than the latest toys, clothes, gadgets to be happy. Thinking in terms of the whole child… examining and contemplating our kids’ health both physical and mental, emotional is important. As a parent, who has struggled at times, with mental and physical health issues…My kids over-all well-being is important to me. I am sure your kids’ health is important to you.
  • Communicating with our kids openly and freely and on a need-to-know, age-appropriate basis can help sustain and maintain our kids’ mental, physical and emotional health. Parents and kids need on-going education to be able to tackle any challenge together in a positive, peaceful manner that contributes to the over-all mental and emotional health of the entire family.
  • What kinds of things do you do together as a family? Besides fighting? (Just joking)… sadly, though, some families cope often with conflict. Acquiring better or peacefully effective communication skills between parents and parents, between kids and kids and between parents and kids can help everyone stay healthy, wise and mentally well.
Yes, all parents want the best for their kids and want to contribute to their wellness now and in the future. What are we truly providing?
We can, each day, work our best to provide a safe, stable environment for our kids not only financially, but emotionally and mentally as well.
Chato Stewart
Consumer Peer Ambassador

Ebola – Don’t Panic!

Thursday, October 23, 2014 @ 02:10 PM
Author: Chato Stewart
Many are enduring different health crises in their lives with their mental and physical health. Don’t panic! Take precautions for the protection of your health.
The Ebola outbreak in Africa is horrific with more than 4,000 losing their lives thus far in: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Here in the sates, in Texas, a second health care worker, who cared for an Ebola Patient, has contracted it as well. According to CNN: […] there could be 10,000 new Ebola cases per week in the three countries by the end of this year as the outbreak spreads, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.
As with any illness, education and prevention is important. Due to a lack of education, some have put themselves at risk both mentally and physically and not just with Ebola.
Hopefully, Ebola will not come to Florida. (Perhaps, that is wishful thinking.) The world is small and many of us fly to other parts of our beautiful planet and Florida attracts many visitors.
What do you know about Ebola? What simple precautions can we take now? What good health habits are you practicing daily?
1 basic reminder:  Hand washing regularly is a good health habit! Good hygiene, overall cleanliness of environment and quarantine seem to succinctly sum up what I’ve read on the topic.
What can we learn from the World Health Organization? Here is some information from their website:
Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:
  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.


Take care, stay well and wash your hands…often!:)

The BAKER Act Topic at NAMI Charlotte County Meeting

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 @ 02:10 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Tuesday, October 7th was NAMI Charlotte County meeting.  It was standing room only at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care (CBHC) in Punta Gorda.  With a panel from the F.A.C.T. Team, CBHC and Riverside Behavioral Center for a Q and A open format on a hot topic…The BAKER Act.

The Baker Act was set up in 1971 to protect the “rights of all individuals examined or treated for mental illness in Florida.”  But after 43 years, a lot has changed…most of the change is how it is funded and at present how one is “Baker Acted.”

States DCF Brochure: What Is Involuntary Examination and How Is It Conducted?

  • An involuntary exam is a psychiatric exam conducted without a person’s consent, often called “getting Baker Acted.”
  • Involuntary exams are initiated by:
    • Law enforcement officers (49%) (2011 stats)
    • Mental health professionals and physicians (49%) (2011 stats)
    • Circuit courts (2%) (2011 stats)

Criteria for involuntary exam are that the individual:

  • Appears to have a mental illness
  • Presents a danger to self or others
  • Refuses voluntary exam or is unable to understand need for exam

AT the NAMI Charlotte County meeting, I did not get a head count. I did help bring chairs over from the break room and in my mind’s eyes I can see about 32 people including the 3 panel members.

This was a special meeting for NAMI Charlotte County.  Special in the way that we had the big three providers at one locations for a fledgling group. Still, the topic matter is serious and many times very personal.  All the more reason, NAMI Charlotte County, needs to be back here in the Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.

Yes, at the meeting, no one was pulling any punches with topics FACT TEAM Member, and River Side Rep and Vickie D’Agostino answering what could be answered – and – we needed to remind ourselves a few times that this is a process.  We talked about the Baker Act and its benefits.  While there are people on both sides of the fence on the BACKER ACT:  People living with mental health issues some times hate it and mothers and fathers sometimes feel it can be a blessing to get their child needed help.  Others feel it lacks teeth to do the job.  Still others are happy to avoid it all together and just volunteer themselves for evaluation. Then there are the Court ordered Backer Act’s. (A complex topic for sure.)

Vickie D’Agostino said “some of our (CBHC’s) most effective mental health programs are actually court ordered, when they don’t want treatment.”

It was surprising for me to hear that a huge part of the Baker Act law that would HELP the most – OUT patient treatment – was never funded!

Moving on to CIT.  DID you know?  YOU can REQUEST a CIT trained officer when you need help?  I am going to follow up on this and call the Charlotte Sheriff Department to talk to someone about this.  I would like to see if there is a way to do some type of test of the department CIT response in handling a matter…something like a fire drill.  The sheriffs receive 40 hours of CIT, but there is a HUGE difference between how it’s handle in a book and in a real life scenario.

I guess that is what the CIT training is for, I hear there is one coming up in November in Ft Myers.


Chato Stewart
Consumer Peer Ambassador


Video Credits:
NAMI Charlotte County Re-Cape Video
Victoria D’Agostino, LMHC
Chief Operating Officer
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care
Jesse Babcock III, LCSW,
Administrator of Riverside Behavioral Center.
NAMI Charlotte County
Video By 
Chato Stewart
Consumer Peer Ambassador