Wellness and Recovery: Choosing Adventures

  • By 7016369785
  • 17 Oct, 2016

By Christy Porter

What does the much-advertised idea of "wellness" mean for people recovering from mental illness, behavioral health conditions, and addiction? Isn't "wellness" all about going to the gym, yoga poses, and eating health food?  

 Not necessarily. Wellness is actually about making choices and recognizing that various parts of our lives feed into each other and are not separate, isolated components. This article will explore basic definitions and activities, with more to follow in the second installment.

 Wellness is about more than being physically healthy, or even free of disease. The definition suggested by H. L. Dunn in his 1961 book “High Level Wellness” focuses on having:

  • Purpose in life;
  • Active involvement in satisfying work and play;
  • Joyful relationships;
  • A healthy body and living environment; and
  • Happiness.

Wellness is an ongoing process of actively taking an interest in, and learning how, to improve your life. The focus is on improvement and making good choices, rather than trying to achieve some fixed idea of what it means to be “healthy” – something that can vary widely among individuals.  

Clinical discussions about wellness typically separate life activities into several overlapping groups. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMSHA) uses eight groups, comprising the emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental dimensions. The goal is for people to organize their thoughts and choices to enhance the quality and length of their lives.

Creating a well-rounded life does not mean the same thing for everyone. Everybody starts with different elements, builds on their strengths, and takes steps to improve at different rates within each dimension of wellness. Setting goals can be as simple as: scheduling a regular exam with your primary care physician (physical dimension); setting a regular sleep cycle, (physical dimension); joining a book club at the library or a discussion group on-line (intellectual dimension); keeping a notebook and pencils available for drawing or writing, or bringing new interest to a creative hobby you enjoy (intellectual dimension); keeping a journal to help organize your thoughts and be aware of your feelings as a step toward coping with life and relationships (emotional dimension). Try identifying a couple of interests in each area before settling on the activities that will be the first goals.

 In “Who Are You Really and What Do You Want,” author Shad Helmstetter recommends selecting a maximum of three to four goals to concentrate on at one time. Trying to do too much can be overwhelming and confusing, making it difficult to determine your progress or truly enjoy the activities you’ve chosen to enrich your life. It’s okay to change goals, too. There’s nothing wrong with changing direction on your journey to wellness. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary.

Another aspect of wellness is the ability to recognize that an obstacle doesn’t represent failure. Instead, make overcoming the obstacle a goal in itself, thereby postponing the original goal temporarily. Figuring out the elements of a wish, desire, or problem, and tackling them one by one, is essential to meeting wellness goals.

 Examples of activities that can be goals in and of themselves include:

   ·        Organizing transportation, perhaps to the library or a medical appointment

   ·        Gradually weening away from television, reading, or using the computer close to bedtime, to prevent the disruption of sleep patterns

   ·        Finding discussion groups with healthy environments.

 While you may think of these as just activities, recognizing them instead as goals can be both motivating and satisfying as they are accomplished.

 Establishing goals as a productive part of an individual wellness plan, rather than setting goals based on other’s opinions, can also reduce frustration and increase positive outcomes—especially when done in consultation with a doctor or counselor who can help you determine which goals are suitable or of primary importance. Most of all, don’t set yourself up to fail. Set realistic goals that can be achieved gradually, in small steps. For example, instead of adding spinach to your food choices every week because it’s healthy and you think you should, look for ways to increase your spinach intake gradually over a period of six months or a year.

 When planning food organization, check out options in cookbooks from the library or your own collection. Investigate websites, Pinterest pages, and Facebook groups. Collect ideas from friends. See what different restaurants are offering either in person or by going to their online menus. When you find something interesting, try making the dish at home. You can also try out options cooking with friends or by including an adventure to a restaurant as part of your social goals as well. Keep alternate food options available in case a trial doesn’t equal a new favorite food.

 Cooking is relaxing for many people, and it can also be a form of creative expression for some. The time frame is up to each person to choose. How often should someone try to confront a green menace? Twice a month? Once a month? Find out what works for your individual budget, schedule, and sense of adventure. One of the most energizing aspects of working toward wellness is that activities can improve more than one part of life, and curiosity can be the engine that drives efforts tailored to an individual.

 Each activity equals accomplishing your goal because the goal was to try out options rather than to force yourself to do something you dislike. Log activities. Track progress. Note other ideas or goals that might be interesting. Six months or a year later or when you meet with a veggie dish or two you like, pick another food or activity to investigate. You may never find a way to eat spinach, but trying things out can be enjoyable, social, and sometimes even funny. It can also provide you with great stories to tell.

 Approaching the fundamentals of wellness—like encouraging people to address their general health, specific concerns they have, their social life, or their intellectual or creative abilities—is only the beginning of wellness. Words and phrases like purpose , happiness , fulfilling or satisfying work and play, and joyful relationships, help make the pursuit of wellness more than just checking off activities and hitting marks. Pursuing happiness, or even being able to recognize happiness and satisfaction, isn’t always an easy thing to do—particularly when life gets hectic, stressors build up, or major life changes are part of the mix.

 The second part of this series will focus on these more complicated aspects of wellness, particularly those words that we assume we know the meaning of, but can’t always seem to grasp in action.

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Dunn, H. L. (1961) High-Level Wellness . Arlington, VA: Beatty Press.

2.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. (2016) “What Individuals in Recovery Need to Know About Wellness.” http://store.samhsa.gov/product/What-Individuals-in-Recovery-Need-to-Know-About-Wellness/SMA16-4950

3.  Helmstetter, Shad. (2003). Who Are You Really and What Do you Want? USA. Park Avenue Press.

 


Community Counseling Center Blog | Hermitage, PA

By 7016369785 07 Dec, 2017

Any recovery journey is one of learning – not only about facts, appropriate medications and their management, and therapeutic methods, but also about a person’s own needs and strengths. A key element in recovery is support, whether from peers or from trained observers.

According to Pennsylvania Recovery and Resiliency , “Peer Support Services (PSS) are . . . conducted by self-identified current or former consumers of behavioral health services who are trained and certified to offer support and assistance in helping others in their recovery and community-integration process. Peer support is intended to inspire hope in individuals that recovery is not only possible, but probable.”

At Community Counseling Center (CCC), Peer Support Services are open to those who have a qualifying serious mental illness diagnosis that is severe and persistent, and who are referred to the program by a qualified doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or psychologist.

Building strong ties to the community is a fundamental part of a recovery journey, and yet obtaining clinical assistance and acquiring a clear plan of treatment – including an accurate diagnosis – can also cause a person to feel separated and different from those around them. This is true even of their own family members, who may or may not be a part of a person’s recovery journey. Each person’s experiences and life histories create both strengths that can be used in recovery, and barriers to be overcome or managed. Each person must find their time to combat the stigmas regarding mental health that exist in our society.

Yet any steps to engage in stamping out stigma and moving toward advocacy must be made in a way that supports the recovery journey, without threatening it during vulnerable moments. Peer support specialists can provide safe discussions about ways to disclose, when to disclose, and how to determine which people to offer the chance to share a recovery journey, while encouraging a peer to discuss such issues with their mental health provider. They can provide information and perspectives on good and bad experiences, and act as a sounding board for processing the feedback a person receives. One peer support specialist at CCC noted that her role involves “going out and embracing other peers with non-judgment, and helping them be in the community and function in the community.”

Trying to maintain or regain ties to the community without access to others who have or are making a recovery journey can increase isolation, worsen symptoms, or stall progress in various stages. Working through a long period without change can be as difficult as managing periods of ups and downs in progress. Being able to work with someone who can help you set wellness goals, and even meet you out in the community to accompany you as a companion, friend, and advocate as you try to accomplish those goals, can help maintain hope, resiliency, and the recognition of forward progress on the path to recovery.

According to an article in Mental Health America , “Peer specialists model recovery, teach skills and offer supports to help people experiencing mental health challenges lead meaningful lives in the community. Peer specialists promote recovery; enhance hope and social networking through role modeling and activation; and supplement existing treatment with education, empowerment, and aid in system navigation.” This is not limited to navigating the health care system. Several peer support specialists from CCC said they provide support and assistance to clients by putting them in contact with other agencies that may help with housing or household needs, by working with them as they complete forms for food stamps, energy assistance programs, and employment services. One noted that many people don’t know what may be available to them, and that “you can’t recover if your basic needs aren’t being met.”

The needs of those accessing peer support services reach into the full range of the choices for wellness. Activities for meeting wellness goals have included things as wide ranging as helping a peer bathe a dog, helping put up or take down a Christmas tree, meeting peers at libraries or at a community event to meet social wellness goals, meeting at the park to help with fitness goals, and accompanying peers to meetings with doctors or medical care givers as an emotional support, as well as having discussions prior to such meetings to help peers outline goals, questions, and needs for the meeting. Peer support specialists can also assist those learning to manage public transportation if needed.  

In her article “ Peer Specialists are Not Clinicians ,” Patricia Deegan notes that the relationship between peers and peer support specialists includes a focus on “learning together rather than assessing or prescribing help.” The whole interaction is guided by the goals of the peer. Asking good questions, actively listening to the peer, and reinforcing the ideas a client has about those goals are all part of a peer specialist’s role. Knowing when to advise a peer to ask a clinician or a doctor a specific question, or for help in determining positive, realistic goals is also part of the job.

Pennsylvania Recovery and Resiliency notes that peer support services are “designed to promote empowerment, self-determination, understanding, coping skills, and resiliency through mentoring and service coordination supports that allow individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and co-occurring disorders to achieve personal wellness and cope with the stressors and barriers encountered when recovering.” Additionally, “Peer support is designed on the principles of consumer choice and the active involvement of persons in their own recovery process. Peer support practice is guided by the belief that people . . .  need opportunities to identify and choose for themselves their desired roles with regard to living, learning, working and social interaction in the community.”

While the scope of a peer support specialist’s role can be far reaching, it is guided by goals set out by the peer and is designed to help support the peer’s growing independence. CCC’s peer support specialists complete 75 hours of training prior to certification, and are responsible for meeting continuing education goals throughout the year. One noted that setting and modeling appropriate boundaries is challenging because their goal is to encourage the patient, not to do things or to speak for them.

Specialists provide support, encouragement, shared experiences, and true compassion and empathy. One specialist at CCC noted that with a peer support specialist “you have someone who can say they really get it. But you [the peer] have to be in the place when you’re ready to work.” Another noted, “We’ve been where you are.”  

Peer support services differ from traditional mental health services in some basic ways. It is a self-referring program focused on equality among participants (both peers and peer support specialists). The program provides a non-judgmental atmosphere, and the informality of the interaction between peers and peer support specialists avoids the artificial barriers such as those between “consumers” and “professionals.” Some of the program goals include individual choice in recovery, personal wellness or being as healthy as a person can be, self-advocacy, making friends that can be counted on, dealing with the stressors of finding and keeping a job, increasing self-esteem, and contacting community resources.

If you are interested in joining the community of peers, have your mental or behavioral healthcare provider or other doctor or qualifying medical provider refer you to the Community Counseling Center’s Peer Support Services program.

If you are interested in become a peer support specialist as you continue on your recovery journey, contact Susan Pozner at Community Counseling Center of Mercer County at 724-981-7141 or toll free at 866-853-7758 and TTY: at 724-981-4327. For more information about Community Counseling Center of Mercer County visit our website or our Facebook page .

 

 

Resources

“Defining Peer Support.” (n.d.)  Pennsylvania Recovery and Resiliency. Retrieved from http://164.156.7.185/parecovery/services_peer.shtml#psi

 Deegan, Patricia E.,  Ph.D. (21 June, 2017) “Peer Specialists are Not Clinicians.” PDA Blog. Retrieved from https://www.patdeegan.com/blog/posts/peer-specialists-are-not-clinicians

Interviews with Peer Support Specialists. (2 October, 2017) Community Counseling Center.

“Peer Specialists.” (n.d.) Mental Health America. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/peer-services

 

MHA

By 7016369785 06 Dec, 2017
Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the "winter blues," is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. Seasonal depression typically occurs when the seasons change and most symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months. However, seasonal depression can occur in the summer or spring, although this is less common. [ 1 , 2 ,3 , 5 ]
By 7016369785 06 Nov, 2017

The Light Beneath Their Feet

 

This film may not necessarily be known by many, but it is perhaps one of the most realistic movies produced in almost documentary genre while it is also quite moving in its flow.


The mental health related flicks may be viewed through four items within the line of their realistic silver screen presentations:

 

1) Mental health concept and illness

 

2) Patients with mental health

 

3) Behavioral Health workers and

 

4) Behavioral Health settings

 

This film is successful in achieving realistic presentation of all these four items.

 

The story is simple enough that it may remind the patients and therapists of their own lives related to taking care of a person who has a mentally illness.

 

The leading characters consist of a mother and her daughter.

 

The mother is a patient with bipolar disorder. Provided she takes her medication regularly and visits her psychiatrist frequently, she appears to be maintaining the non-psychotic status, even productive when employed by the settings that would not be expecting her to engage in complex tasks.

 

Unfortunately, like some if not many patients with bipolar disorder, she does not want to continue taking her medication regularly. She chooses to stop taking it and then becomes psychotic which leads to her hospitalization.

 

Her daughter is a high school senior and a very good student who had been making plans to apply for her dream university. It would be a higher educational setting far away as long as her desired outcomes would be workable. She would need to be accepted by the university and find someone to take care of her mother in her absence. They do not have other family members and friends are reluctant to get involved in her mother’s prospective care as they do not know how to handle an individual with behavioral disturbances.

 

Therefore the movie displays two people struggling with their own situations while dearly loving each other. The mom struggled with endless manic and depressive episodes and the daughter struggled with the decision to go for her education or not to go and stay at home and take care of her mother.

 

I will take liberty to state a few things regarding the ending, since these will not be spoilers as the movie ends with no outcome! The screenplay leaves the outcome to the audience's discretion as the daughter joins her mom in their room in the last scene. The End. We do not know whether she says goodbye or lets her mom know that she is staying to take care of her.


This is an excellent film for sharing with a respective community with regard to anti-stigma efforts and educating the public about mental health.

 

This is also an excellent movie for educating behavioral health students, interns and residents along with rehabilitative program and patient groups while stopping the film from time to time and asking what is going on.  What would the participants do if they were in the shoes of the mother and daughter? This would generate and maintain a good discussion and debate.

 

It is a behavioral health gem and a bittersweet mother and daughter relationship presentation. It is relevant for many real patients, their families and therapists who have similar clients.

 

M. F. Ulus, MD


By 7016369785 25 Oct, 2017
Facing human trafficking, mental illness and addiction, respectively, Abby Long, Jason Sterling and Heidi Mikulin all can vividly recall those dark moments in their lives when they wanted to die.

Survivors now, they shared their stories Wednesday night at the continuing Mercer COPE town halls, in the hopes that those in attendance would take something away from what they’ve learned.

For Abby Long — who was born to alcoholic parents in Russia and adopted to the United States at the age of 10, only to find herself in a family where a brother repeatedly sexually assaulted her — the takeaway should be that there are signs that someone has been the victim of human trafficking.

“My issue was I started to cut early,” she said.

“I could deal with the physical pain, but not everything I was feeling inside,” said Sterling, who also turned to cutting as he struggled with mental illness and alcoholism.

He shared his story because he understands what it looked like from the world’s perspective when he was in his deepest struggles, but few understand what was going on inside.

“It’s a living hell inside your own head,” he said of mental illness.

His father left at a young age, and Sterling said he spent a long time, especially after his father’s death, trying to understand why his father left. Through Sterling’s challenges, he faced criminal charges and two divorces, as he tried to numb the pain, find a loving wife, and understand why
so many things around him fell apart.

With a diagnosis that included bipolar and borderline disorders, he started to make some
headway as he started attending a church where he found Celebrate Recovery — a program that
tackles all forms of life’s challenges from addiction to gambling and divorce — which brought
“people into my life who accepted me as I was,” he said.

“What is the solution?” Sterling said. “Honestly, I don’t know, but I know what helped me —
Love, compassion and education.”

Long shared similar advice for those trying to help people facing struggles similar to hers.

“Don’t put it on the back burner,” she said. “Show them love; don’t judge them.”

For those with someone in their life battling addiction, Mikulin had some additional insight.

Having faced addiction herself, she recalls trying to help someone that she loved battle those
demons. She said she tried to shove what she’d learned down their throats.

“That never works,” she said. “If you love someone who’s addicted, step back.”

She remembers the things her mother said and did that helped her.

Her mother wouldn’t give her money, but “if you’re hungry, I’ll feed you,” her mother told her.

She offered for Mikulin to stay in her home, but any time her mother and father left, she had to
go with them.

“And if you don’t want to go with us, you can sit outside with locked doors,” Mikulin recalls.

Mikulin is a pastor now, but struggled for decades with addiction. Included in that battle was an
accident Oct. 15, 2007, when she was driving past an accident involving a semi on Interstate 79,
didn’t see the driver outside his cab, and struck him with her vehicle.

“I remember performing CPR on him and knowing in my heart of hearts that he was already
gone,” she said. “And wanting to die myself.”

Things began to turn around in jail, where she met a chaplain and began attending church.

Through the legal process, she was confronted with the family of the man who had died, an
experience for which she says she’s grateful.

“I got to look at them and tell them with great sincerity how sorry I was,” she said. “I told them I
would never say no to telling the story of what happened that day.”

She keeps telling the story, she says, in hopes of preventing a least one person who shouldn’t get behind the wheel from doing so.

Scotty Clary, a drug and alcohol counselor from the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission, shared information on juvenile marijuana abuse, including longterm effects that can include dropping out of school, potential opiate abuse and financial difficulties.
By 7016369785 25 Oct, 2017
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By 7016369785 20 Oct, 2017
By Holly Patterson
By 7016369785 10 Oct, 2017

SHARON — According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 15 percent of women who have recently given birth suffer from postpartum depression.

This year’s Stamp Out Stigma (SOS) at Penn State Shenango will feature a presentation on the subject at its fourth annual SOS event to be held from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the Great Hall of Sharon Hall located on Vine Avenue in downtown Sharon.

The event is free and open to the public.

The hour-long program will also include a discussion on why health and fitness are vital to a person’s mental well-being led by Penn State Shenango Counselor Tony Paglia, as well as a special message on love and unity in the face of the horrible tragedies that have recently occurred in our country by Jack Luchette, a Penn State alumnus and the lead organizer of the annual event.

“At Penn State Shenango, we approach student health from a holistic perspective, and we seek to serve students with programming and resources that will promote their health in the areas of mind, body, and spirit,” Paglia said. “This semester, we are excited to offer our students on-campus yoga classes with instructor Debbie Harrington. We believe that by reducing stigma and encouraging our students to take better care of their physical and mental health, they will be more successful in meeting their academic and personal goals.”

The presenters at this year’s SOS event, in addition to Paglia and Luchette, include Community Counseling Center of Mercer County Community Outreach and Development Director Fern Torok, and special guest Penn State Shenango Human Development and Family Studies Lecturer and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kara Mild, who will be speaking about postpartum depression and the stigma associated with the mood disorder.

“The Community Counseling Center has conducted 97 distinct Stamp Out Stigma presentations with over 117,000 people during the past several years,” Torok said. “We are excited to be part of the Shenango campus’ event again this year.”

For more information, call Paglia at 724-983- 2841.


By 7016369785 05 Oct, 2017

Gossip has been around since the beginning of man and women. However, a lot of people take gossip way too far in life, which can cause terrible events to unroll onto that person. Looking back, I myself was involved in several horrible rumors and lies. Now for me that did nothing to me, I shrugged them off, laughed, and cheered registering their petty lies useless. This is a mechanism that I have created over time. The same cannot be said about other individuals, the lies can emotionally harm someone especially if the rumor isn’t true. The Gossip Effect explains how and what the effect of gossiping can have on someone. For example, in high school a women or a man could be verbally abused by others daily. They might say something like “You are ugly, how could anyone date you!” this inappropriate comment will spread throughout the school like wild fire aka (Gossip). As it goes through one person it will get told slightly different every single time it is told to a new person it is altered. Eventually the comment previous-ly said could be something like this, “Oh, I heard she is pregnant” or “I heard they do drugs almost every day”. From my point of view, I take all these comments and think, “Hmm, how could someone their age be so childish. Ha-ha.” Laughing is the best medicine, my advice to all of you is laugh at those comments, don’t let them get to you. Now I understand you can take it personally or even get angry and lash out at the accused. STOP, think it over and think of the consequences and then calm down and smile and don’t care about those petty comments. Odds are you want to hurt them or make them experience the same pain as yourself. However, if you really want to hurt them, don’t let those insults get to you. Shrug them off and smile, laugh a few times and walk away from the situation. Thank them for their time and continue your beautiful day, don’t let anything get to you. If you are looking to learn how to just shrug it off then practice in your mind and head, play a scenario over and over again practicing. Let me tell you, you are beautiful and you are awesome regardless of what anyone says. Look into the mirror every morning and smile at yourself and say one good thing about your-self, could be your smile, or your personality. Love yourself, once you accept these facts, those petty gossips will mean nothing. Gossip isn’t just insulting someone, gossip is when someone tells everyone else without your knowledge of it. Keep those private conversations to your-self, it should always be confidential. You are awesome and as long as you keep seeing good traits and staying true to one self.

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