Blog

Extreme Weather And Environmental Conditions

Here in, typically balmy, Florida, most of us may not be familiar with the term “snow rage.” Even if you are an annual “Snow-Bird,” this term may be unusual. I had never heard of it before myself. Until my older sister, who resides in New England’s Boston area, informed me. Snow Rage and it’s serious effects has made the news there.

This gives us an opportunity to shed some light on the human psyche when under fierce pressure, both mentally and physically, while facing extreme weather conditions.  Something we never have to deal with down hear in Florida with our hurricanes, and flash floods, torrential rains, tornadoes…oh, and let’s not forget: Florida is the “Lightning Strike” capital of  America.  So examining rage and a few things we might be able to do if we are ever faced with a similar snow/storm-like situation which may help us slide down the rage hill into a more tranquil and productive calmness.

A Storm is Brewing Under my Skin

As many people know much of the North, this Winter, has gotten hit hard with snow.  The amount varies from state to state, and area, town, city. My sisters, well, they are in the Boston area of Massachusetts.  They got pummeled, slammed bad! It is a winter wonderland with relentless snow. Blizzard conditions have caused countless challenges of commuting and communicating.  Layer, over layer, foot over foot of snow banks. There was so much snow and it had no place to go but up, and up, and up…On Friday, February the 13th, there was a lull in the snow, only for a few hours then another HUGE Storm hit. Dumping almost 2 more FEET of snow on top of the huge piles of snow that was already there from a few days before.

STRESSED are the people, shutting whole cities down, trains, planes and automobiles.  I drew the below Mental Health Humor cartoon for the 13th, but by then the “Sown Rage” was in full-effect up North.1518_MentalHealthHumor-mental health hell had to freeze over bad-luck

Here is your Invitation to THE SHARE SPOT Grand Opening 

Thursday, February 12, 2015 @ 01:02 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Ribbon cutting ceremony and Grand Opening at “The Self Help And Recovery Exchange” (S.H.A.R.E.) Spot

Charlotte Behavioral Health Care invites you to a Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening ceremony to celebrate our new drop in center…The S.H.A.R.E. Spot!

As a fundamental part of our Charlotte Behavioral Health Care family we encourage you to attend our ribbon cutting ceremony for The S.H.A.R.E. Spot on Tuesday, February 24th at 5:15 pm. This is an exciting time for CBHC and we would like to share this celebration with you!

The S.H.A.R.E. Spot will also be holding the Grand Opening on Wednesday, February 25th from 10:30-2:30…come check us out! There will be a BBQ lunch and weather permitting, games outside.
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, serving the behavioral and substance abuse needs of Charlotte County, has recently taken over the drop-in center and is committed to offer a wholesome place for socialization, advocacy and self help for people that have a mental illness.

The Share (Self Help And Recovery Exchange) Spot for CBHC is operating 4 days a week as a consumer-run program that follows a clubhouse representation that is based on the recovery model in which includes the key components:

  • ShareSelf-Direction,
  • Individualized and Person-Centered,
  • Empowerment,
  • Holistic,
  • Non-Linear,
  • Strengths-Based,
  • Peer Support,
  • Respect,
  • Responsibility and
  • Hope.

We are committed to offering a welcoming, safe and social atmosphere that will empower all members while instilling hope for a brighter future.

Our Share Spot is a powerful demonstration of the fact that people with mental illness can and do lead normal, productive lives. The expansion of this new drop in center will better meet the needs of current and future consumers in our community.

You are cordially invited to The Share Spot
Ribbon Cutting on Tuesday, February 24th at 5:15
AND
The S.H.A.R.E. Spot
Grand Opening on Wednesday, February 25th
from 10:30-2:30

located at 21450 Gilbralter Drive, Port Charlotte


Please contact me if you have any questions about our events.

Sincerely,
Jessica Boles
Director of Public Relations, CBHC jboles@cbhcfl.org

Reprint Florida Weekly article by Glenn Miller

Monday, February 9, 2015 @ 12:02 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

“People with mental illnesses are marginalized,” said Mr. McNally, indicating that the marginalizing starts with language.  I recently heard the same Author Dr. John McGee An old video I came across on Youtube.

“Terms like ‘the mentally ill,’” Mr. McNally said. “There is no such thing as ‘the mentally ill.’ There are people who have mental illness, but by using the term ‘the mentally ill,’ you strip people of their person.” He likened it to referring to people with cancer as “the cancers.”

“There’s a lot of discrimination,” Ms. Blount said. She has heard people use the dismissive words, “those people.”

“We’re your brothers, your sisters, your husbands your wives, your friends,” Mr. McNally said. “We’re everywhere.”

Not enough money

In Florida, though, people with mental illnesses face steeper challenges. Based on state spending, Floridians with such diagnoses are among the most marginalized in the nation.

Where’s the story?
PointsMentioned Map4 Points Mentioned
Recent numbers show Florida’s per capita spending on mental health are 49th in the nation. That’s according to both the National Association of Mental Illness and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which peg Florida’s per capita spending on mental health at $39.55. The national average is $120.19. Only Idaho ($36.64) spends less per capita on taking care of the mental health needs of its citizens.

Things are being done, though. Things such the Leadership Academy, a meeting of the minds of people who work in the field and people affected by mental illness. The academy’s purpose is to share information and spread knowledge.

Mr. McNally is what is called a CLEAR training coordinator. CLEAR stands for Connecting Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Recovery.

Ms. Manning and Ms. Blount are trainers who will, in Mr. McNally’s words, “be facilitating this academy.”

Power to the people

The workshops are designed to help people help themselves, and people with mental illness take part.

“It’s collective selfdetermination,” Mr. McNally said. “Workshops helping people learn to take initiatives … to learn how to collaborate with others.”

“For many years folks who had a mental illness — everybody else spoke for them and they were never involved,” Mr. McNally said. “How does it not make sense to have a person with a mental illness come to the table for collaboration? It would be like having a conflict about how to manage nine months of pregnancy and only having men at the table.

“So one of the things that has happened is that people with mental illness have been marginalized. People taking the attitude that ‘they’re not smart,’ ‘they can’t participate effectively,’ and so ‘we’ll decide what’s best for them.’”

At the academies, people with diagnoses help make decisions. They also learn about how to get involved.

As noted in a CLEAR brochure, “It is about empowerment.”

“We want to see collaboration and teamwork. We’re all in this together,” Mr. McNally said. “There are so many misconceptions about mental health. Part of what needs to happen (is) we need to empower people who have mental illnesses. How do you advocate? How do you make inroads?”

Those questions are addressed at the Leadership Academy workshops.

Participants at the Punta Gorda workshop will come in with a cross-section of diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Finding people with a diagnosis of mental illness is easy, Mr. McNally said, because one in four American families is affected.

The National Association of Mental Illness’s website confirms that percentage is about 25 percent, which means about 61.5 million Americans have some form of mental illness. The input of folks with mental illnesses is necessary at the Leadership Academy, and they will be expected to participate.

Mr. McNally asks participants to “come to the table with concerns and bring with you solutions — collaborations to fix the problems. That’s part of what the academy teaches.”

Another topic the workshops cover is using the proper language.

“People say, ‘We’ve got to end the stigma,’” Mr. McNally said. But, he added, “One of the ways we’re going to end the stigma is to not use the word. There is no stigma to mental illness any more than there’s a stigma to having cancer. “

And as with cancer, help is needed.

“There’s so much misunderstanding of mental illness,” Mr. McNally said. “A lot of the attitude is, ‘Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it.’”

But not everyone can do that.

Having recently conducted a workshop in Miami, Ms. Manning knows they are challenging.

“One gentleman came to me during lunch the first day and said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to come back.’ He was the only gentleman there. He felt outnumbered. I said, ‘What can I do to make this academy a positive experience for you?’ He said, ‘Could you tell them they’re not listening to me?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. I will do that.’

“They apologized to him. He stuck it out. By the weekend, he had us laughing and in stitches … He was one of those who lives with mental illness.”

Meanwhile, Florida muddles along with little funding support. The need is great, but the funding is not.

So people are working together to make a difference through programs such as the Leadership Academy workshop.

Mental health conference calls on all concerned
BY GLENN MILLER
Florida Weekly Correspondent
Florida’s mental health need is great, but the funding isn’t. And though Florida spends far less than the national average on mental health, that doesn’t mean Floridians don’t care. Some care passionately: People such as Michael McNally, Jane Manning and Lisa Blount, who will meet with a dozen or so other caring Floridians for what is called a Leadership Academy. The Jan. 21-23 conference will be held at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care in Punta Gorda.

Six of these academies are conducted in Florida every year, one in each region of the state’s Department of Children and Families, and the need for such workshops is great.

“People with mental illnesses are marginalized,” said Mr. McNally, indicating that the marginalizing starts with language.

“Terms like ‘the mentally ill,’” Mr. McNally said. “There is no such thing as ‘the mentally ill.’ There are people who have mental illness, but by using the term ‘the mentally ill,’ you strip people of their person.” He likened it to referring to people with cancer as “the cancers.”

“There’s a lot of discrimination,” Ms. Blount said. She has heard people use the dismissive words, “those people.”

“We’re your brothers, your sisters, your husbands your wives, your friends,” Mr. McNally said. “We’re everywhere.”

Not enough money

In Florida, though, people with mental illnesses face steeper challenges. Based on state spending, Floridians with such diagnoses are among the most marginalized in the nation.

Where’s the story?
PointsMentioned Map4 Points Mentioned
Recent numbers show Florida’s per capita spending on mental health are 49th in the nation. That’s according to both the National Association of Mental Illness and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which peg Florida’s per capita spending on mental health at $39.55. The national average is $120.19. Only Idaho ($36.64) spends less per capita on taking care of the mental health needs of its citizens.

Things are being done, though. Things such the Leadership Academy, a meeting of the minds of people who work in the field and people affected by mental illness. The academy’s purpose is to share information and spread knowledge.

Mr. McNally is what is called a CLEAR training coordinator. CLEAR stands for Connecting Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Recovery.

Ms. Manning and Ms. Blount are trainers who will, in Mr. McNally’s words, “be facilitating this academy.”

Power to the people

The workshops are designed to help people help themselves, and people with mental illness take part.

“It’s collective selfdetermination,” Mr. McNally said. “Workshops helping people learn to take initiatives … to learn how to collaborate with others.”

“For many years folks who had a mental illness — everybody else spoke for them and they were never involved,” Mr. McNally said. “How does it not make sense to have a person with a mental illness come to the table for collaboration? It would be like having a conflict about how to manage nine months of pregnancy and only having men at the table.

“So one of the things that has happened is that people with mental illness have been marginalized. People taking the attitude that ‘they’re not smart,’ ‘they can’t participate effectively,’ and so ‘we’ll decide what’s best for them.’”

At the academies, people with diagnoses help make decisions. They also learn about how to get involved.

As noted in a CLEAR brochure, “It is about empowerment.”

“We want to see collaboration and teamwork. We’re all in this together,” Mr. McNally said. “There are so many misconceptions about mental health. Part of what needs to happen (is) we need to empower people who have mental illnesses. How do you advocate? How do you make inroads?”

Those questions are addressed at the Leadership Academy workshops.

Participants at the Punta Gorda workshop will come in with a cross-section of diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Finding people with a diagnosis of mental illness is easy, Mr. McNally said, because one in four American families is affected.

The National Association of Mental Illness’s website confirms that percentage is about 25 percent, which means about 61.5 million Americans have some form of mental illness. The input of folks with mental illnesses is necessary at the Leadership Academy, and they will be expected to participate.

Mr. McNally asks participants to “come to the table with concerns and bring with you solutions — collaborations to fix the problems. That’s part of what the academy teaches.”

Another topic the workshops cover is using the proper language.

“People say, ‘We’ve got to end the stigma,’” Mr. McNally said. But, he added, “One of the ways we’re going to end the stigma is to not use the word. There is no stigma to mental illness any more than there’s a stigma to having cancer. “

And as with cancer, help is needed.

“There’s so much misunderstanding of mental illness,” Mr. McNally said. “A lot of the attitude is, ‘Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it.’”

But not everyone can do that.

Having recently conducted a workshop in Miami, Ms. Manning knows they are challenging.

“One gentleman came to me during lunch the first day and said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to come back.’ He was the only gentleman there. He felt outnumbered. I said, ‘What can I do to make this academy a positive experience for you?’ He said, ‘Could you tell them they’re not listening to me?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. I will do that.’

“They apologized to him. He stuck it out. By the weekend, he had us laughing and in stitches … He was one of those who lives with mental illness.”

Meanwhile, Florida muddles along with little funding support. The need is great, but the funding is not.

So people are working together to make a difference through programs such as the Leadership Academy workshop.

“If we were 20th instead of 50th, the funding stream would be significantly larger,” Mr. McNally said, “which would mean access to care would not be as much of a serious issue.” But as it is now, he said, “You have to wait three to six months for a psychiatric appointment.”

The Leadership Academy is a workshop, with the emphasis on the work.

Topics to be covered include identifying issues, developing clear goals and action plans, community advocacy organizations, how to conduct effective meetings, handling votes, the legislative process in Florida and funding sources and strategies.

The Leadership Academies give participants tools to help themselves and others.

Those interested in participating in the Leadership Academy — health-care professionals, those affected by mental illness and their family and friends — can call 260-7313. For further information, call (800) 945-1355 or visit namicollierco.org. ¦

“If we were 20th instead of 50th, the funding stream would be significantly larger,” Mr. McNally said, “which would mean access to care would not be as much of a serious issue.” But as it is now, he said, “You have to wait three to six months for a psychiatric appointment.”

The Leadership Academy is a workshop, with the emphasis on the work.

Topics to be covered include identifying issues, developing clear goals and action plans, community advocacy organizations, how to conduct effective meetings, handling votes, the legislative process in Florida and funding sources and strategies.

The Leadership Academies give participants tools to help themselves and others.

Those interested in participating in the Leadership Academy — health-care professionals, those affected by mental illness and their family and friends — can call 260-7313. For further information, call (800) 945-1355 or visit namicollierco.org.

 

I started my own Mental Health Advocacy in 2003 in Sarasota, Florida (more about my history below).   Peers ask me what do “they have do to become and mental health advocate?”  I would normally answer them: be willing to “talk about your story and experience with a focus on the positive.”  Doing this is the first step toward advocating for mental health.  It starts with YOU! Your story is the foundation to building a solid platform for advocacy.

Are you a peer in recovery and want to become a Mental Health Advocate for yourself and to help others? Or a caregiver or loved one that wants to get involved in making a difference in the mental health community here in your local area or here in  Charlotte County?… Then this special Charlotte Behavioral Health Care Event will be the perfect jump start or refresher training focused on the consumer level.

The EVENT is for: MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES and anyone who ever wanted to be one! While participation is at no cost, you must still register to attend!
When: Mark your calendars -
January 21 (8:30AM to 4:30PM), 2015
January 22 (9:00AM to 4:30PM), 2015
January 23 (9:00AM to 4:30PM), 2015  
 
The Florida Leadership Academy is:
The three-day Leadership Academy is an educational program for individuals who are eager to strengthen their leadership, networking, and advocacy skills. It focuses on creating system and community change through collective self-determination, which exemplifies empowerment.” ~ Suncocast Region Leadership Academy
For Information and Registration contact:
Michael McNally, Leadership Coordinator
(239)260-7313 or Michael@namicollier.org 
PDF: Jan 21-23 Leadership Academy Flyer
 
I  got a chance to talk to Michael McNally, Leadership Coordinator the other day, he said,
“We are so pleased to be partnering with CBHC in order to bring the Academy to Charlotte County. Everyone will go home with a set of practical tools to become better, more effective advocates….peers, family members, friends, and providers…..we are all in this together and are all working to improve mental health services in our own communities and in the State of Florida!”

Michael is right. We can’t PASS THIS UP. I then made sure to ask him for “Florida Leadership Academy- Participant Application” Michael@namicollier.org  before I hung up the phone. Why?  The information and techniques that will be going over are priceless for a mental health advocate. Here is a sample of them:

  • How to become a better mental health advocate
  • Improve communication skills
  • The “etiquette of advocacy”
  • To lead and build consensus
  • Developing Clear Goals and Action Plans
  • Funding Sources and Strategies
Okay, you’re thinking: Yeah, I want to do more. I could be a mental health advocate, but are still not filling out the “Florida Leadership Academy- Participant Application” – think about it in financial terms…to understand how very SPECIAL this GIFT really is.
1. Location- First, it’s in Punta Gorda (awesome)…which saves the cost of Hotel 3 nights (Average cost 159/ night = $477.00).
2. Gas (depends even if it’s just to drive to the hotel and back $60.00)
3. Leadership Academy Day 1
4. Leadership Academy Day 2
5. Leadership Academy Day 3
and the training if you had to pay out of pocket for it, including gas, hotels and cost of say a training/educational course similar to this one…You could expect to realistically pay $699.00-$999.00. Not only is this a FREE training, but you may qualify for a $35.00 stipend! 
How I, Chato Stewart, got started:
I started my Mental Health Advocacy on my own in 2003 in Sarasota, Florida At that time, there were no peer-to-peer support groups for Bipolar Disorder. I needed more help then what I was getting with my newly diagnosed “illness”… I was going to a weekly group at my provider led by a psych student. No one was making any progress or staying in the group except 4 of us die hards/core peers that would show up early and hold our own micro peer to peer group.  The psych student  would switch every 3 months, so you would have to re-hash your life story with each new student 4 times a year…Even if we got a good student and some progress… we would have to start all over again. Needless to say, this was not a productive group, but it did lead  me and another member getting involved with the national organization and creating the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA Sarasota Chapter).  We talked to Doctors hospital and they allowed us the use of a meeting room Monday nights. We helped hundreds in the community… helping our peers by having a safe place to go and talk about mental health issues. And we helped other advocates…We learned from each other, and we helped each other. There is a special bond you make as an advocate that lasts a lifetime.
 I had a rocky start because I was never sure if what I was doing was right. I started a peer-to-peer group on my own, then convinced someone from my weekly group to help me.  I had one person tell me “I was just manic” and this idea that I would help tens of thousands of peers was just a part of my mania. Okay, don’t be judgmental at that undisclosed “person” for their statement.  It is valid, if we are going to help others, we first have to make sure we are not in need of help. I am fine, my Mental Health Advocacy work with my cartoons and blog, and newsletter, and newspapers have  reached about 200,000 people a year world-wide.  That is a very low estimate, too.

Share the Joy Year-Round!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
Author: Chato Stewart

Gratitude AttitudeIt’s that time of the year when: many will be choosing to give thanks and celebrate and possibly enjoy big meals and celebrations together with family and/or friends.

For what are You personally thankful? Have You thought deeply about the mental and physical wellness benefits of being grateful?

Professor Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, says: “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress, and to achieve a positive sense of self.”

Do You have a Gratitude Attitude? And is it year-round?

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” Naomi Williams

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day.” Rasheed Ogunlaru

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou

Gratitude is a positive attitude leading to wellness that is worth cultivating. All of us have many reasons for gratitude. Please notice this excerpt from Time Magazine:

People who describe themselves as feeling grateful . . . tend to have higher vitality and more optimism, suffer less stress, and experience fewer episodes of clinical depression than the population as a whole.

Many have tried keeping a Gratitude Journal which has helped them to concentrate on the positives in their lives and not negatives.

Here’s some Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal from Jason Marsh:
  • Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
  • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.

 Every Day and each breath is a gift! Life is precious and sharing our joys with others including family and friends is much for which to be Grateful. Gratitude is infectious, so if you get any FLU this season, I hope it’s the Gratitude Flu! Share the Joy Year-Round!

Chato Stewart
Consumer Peer Ambassador