Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HIV Testing Event A Success!

Empowerment Resource Center's Take Charge. Get Tested. Event was a success, over 200 people received rapid HIV tests. Embracing My Mind was honored to sponsor and to be an exhibitor for the event. Embracing My Mind pasted out literature from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Also, Embracing My Mind received a great response from survey participants. Survey participants ranged in age from 14 to 59, and were of diverse connections to mental illness, i.e., some were relatives of those with mental illness, friends, caregivers, and others were directly impacted by mental health concerns.

Check out Embracing My Mind for support, and also the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thoughts on Support Groups

What other support groups have you participated in? What did you like or dislike about them?

I've participated in NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) groups, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) groups, and others; including online groups. I prefer small groups, less than ten people. I enjoy sharing my story and relating to other people. Ideally, I would like to find a group that I can grow with, meet friends and people I can trust and spend time with outside of the meetings. I remember in WRAP meetings we developed rules that respected members of the group, that made me feel a little more comfortable. NAMI groups allowed me to bring my family, that was a plus, so that members of my family can be educated about things relating to mental illness too.

Online groups are great because of its diversity of experiences. You learn so much from other people's experiences and questions and answers. The plus for online groups is you get stay anonymous.

I can't say I disliked anything particular about the support groups I've attended. What are your thoughts on support groups?

Also, check out a new support group, Embracing My Mind. To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Personal Fulfillment through Volunteering

People volunteer for different reasons; some have a disability, others may be retired or have extra time to commit to an organization. Whatever the reason, volunteering is a great opportunity to learn new skills and to network. In my experience with volunteering for diverse organizations I have learned how different organizations operate, network, and how they promote different programs.

It is nice volunteering because you can set your own hours. Most of the time organizations are very flexible with you. Also, you learn new things. For example, with the organizations I have volunteered for I learned new tricks on Microsoft Office to create flyers and to use programs I was not familiar with. I am learning how to become incorporated, how to apply for grants, and even have the opportunity to set up a table with a non-profit organization event (Take Charge. Get Tested. Event, June 27, 2009). The things I am learning while volunteering could cost a lot of money if I were to have learned these things in school!

My volunteering allows me to simply "get out of the house" sometimes!!! Time passes by so fast, I want to be able to account for it and feel as though I have done something productive with my time.

Volunteering allows me to successfully interact with other people and not always think about my illness. We could all sit at home and look at the walls and wonder what we're going to do next. We'd soon get very bored. Volunteering is like being proactive with my time, because I know I would get bored so, why not get something started?

My website, Embracing My Mind, was further in my heart and on my mind to create as a result of my volunteering. I was lucky enough to get hands on experience and guidance with my new "mentor" and boss.

Networking is essential to promoting programs. It is helpful to save business cards and to ask people if they know anyone who would be interested in your program, and to get personal referrals.

I enjoy getting different projects and meeting new people. What do you enjoy from volunteering?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also, check out a new support group, Embracing My Mind.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Take Charge. Get Tested. Event-- Atlanta, GA June 27th

If you are in the Atlanta area, come out and get tested at Empowerment Resource Center's second annual Take Charge. Get Tested. Event, Saturday, June 27, 2009 on Auburn Avenue between Bell Street and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive.

Free HIV testing, refreshments, and entertainment will be provided at the health fair. Join key Georgia legislators Senator Nan Orrock, Representative Tyrone L. Brooks Sr., Representative Margaret Kaiser, Fulton County Commissioner Nancy Boxhill, and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall in support of this community outreach campaign.

Empowerment Resource Center is collaborating with Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services, and Big Bethel A.M.E. Church. The health fair is expected to reach over 500 Atlantans. Also, Embracing My Mind (EMM) is a sponsor and exhibitor for the health fair.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also check out Embracing My Mind, a new support group.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Your Advice for Interacting with You

If you were to give someone advice on how to interact with you what would you recommend?

If I were to give such advice I would tell the person to support my endeavors and to motivate me. They could support me by participating in discussions related to schizophrenia, listen to my concerns and help me to provide solutions or alternatives. And they would motivate me by encouraging me to strive for my passion, get back into school and to do well, and by giving constructive criticism to improve my weaknesses.

What kind of advice would you give?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also, if you are looking for a support group check out Embracing My Mind.

Monday, June 1, 2009

How Can We Get Them To Understand?

As you know, not everybody understands mental illness. For example, when a student with a mental disability seeks special accommodations from their professor they are overlooked or not taken seriously (I heard of this situation from an on-line discussion group).

Another more common instance is telling someone in the workforce that a person needs accommodations due to mental illness. Many employers do not understand mental illness, so they try to avoid the situation all together by firing or encouraging the individual with mental illness to quit (another situation I learned of through an on-line discussion group).

Once, while psychotic and not aware of my mental illness, I was questioned by the police and sent home with family. However, if the police had been trained in mental illness like how to spot individuals with mental illness, I could have been treated sooner.

Some people do not think mental illness exists. How can we get them to understand?

1) I think mental illness education should be mandatory for teachers and employers, this way people will be more sensitive to individuals with mental illness. The state can make such programs mandatory by enforcing it through funding opportunities. Make schools and employers have a certain percentage of people with mental disabilities take advantage of their services and jobs. As a result, there will be less stereotypes and stigma attached to mental illness; and less students will feel discouraged and less employees will feel discriminated against.

2)Mental illness education should be taught in middle school as a part of the health education curriculum, just like STDs, sex education, and drug-free programs. This information, when taught earlier before the age of the onset of mental illness, will help people understand that something is wrong and that they should seek a professional health care provider for diagnosis.

3)Train police on how to spot individuals with mental illness. Then, more people with mental illness will get treatment.

What are some other ways we can get them to understand mental illness?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also, visit Embracing My Mind for open group discussion on various topics concerning mental illness and life.

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...