Mental Health Association of Rockland Awarded a $10k Grant from Sterling National Bank for Discovering Tomorrow Program

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

 

Valley Cottage – The Mental Health Association of Rockland County’s President and CEO,

Stephanie Madison, has received a $10k check from the Sterling National Bank Charitable Foundation to sustain the Discovering Tomorrow program, which serves youth ranging from 5-18 years of age. Discovering Tomorrow is an important component of the work MHA does with youth and the service it offers is recognized by the NYS Office of Mental Health as a critical tool to engage, connect and motivate young people who struggle with emotional disturbances, who are isolated and need help envisioning a hopeful future.

“Sterling National Bank has made it possible for us to continue to engage youth in talking about and realizing their hopes and dreams by connecting them to needed services and creating a team to support that child”.

MHA’s Case Managers in this program serve children who have serious emotional disturbances that impair their ability to function at home and/or school. The program is provided at no charge to the participants, so their inability to pay is never an impediment to receiving help. Discovering Tomorrow Case Managers are often the only consistent support to a child, as their behavioral difficulties typically cause considerable conflict in their relationships. Short-term, the goal is to help children and their families connect to services that will strengthen their participation in school, family relationships and social connections. Once these relationships are strengthened, the long-term goal is to reduce conflict and prevent hospitalization and out-of-home placement.

As per the NYS Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services, an estimated 20% of youth receiving treatment for emotional or behavioral problems have either contemplated or attempted suicide. In addition, studies have shown that continuing in school through and beyond high school is strongly linked to longer life expectancies and increased lifetime earnings. “MHA serves over 100 youth per year across Rockland County and Sterling National Bank has allowed us to sustain an important program that benefits children and their families in the Rockland Community”.

 

 

For more information contact Velvet Reda (845) 267-2172, redav@mharockland.org

MHA is offering a free two-day training on suicide prevention – called ASIST – on June 2 and 3, 2015

For immediate release

Event:   Suicide Prevention Training June 2nd and 3rd

Contact: Sonia Wagner, Mental Health Association of Rockland, 845-267-2172, x323

The Mental Health Association of Rockland is offering a free two-day, highly interactive training on suicide prevention, called ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), to the general community on June 2nd and 3rd from 9am to 5pm (registration at 8:30am), with breakfast and lunch provided.

Through video, lecture, and roleplaying, participants will learn how to engage a person who has suicidal thoughts, help them to develop a safety plan, and connect them to additional supports if necessary.

“It is a kind of CPR class for suicide prevention,” said Sonia Wagner, executive vice president of the Mental Health Association.  “So often people are afraid to ask a loved one about suicidal thinking.   In fact, we find that a person who is thinking about suicide is generally relieved to discuss it and grateful that someone cared enough to ask.”

ASIST training has been delivered to over 500,000 people in more than ten countries.

The ASIST training will be offered at the Mental Health Association in Valley Cottage.  To register, please call the Association at 845-267-2172, x320.

Raising a Male of Color Today

Raising a Male of Color Today
by Mary Evans, Senior Case Manager

People often say, “raising a child starts in the home”. Even though this concept is still widely uttered throughout America, then why do the same great principles and values that African American males are taught in their home, fail them outside the home? As a single, college educated African-American female, I raised my son up in the Church. I attended every parent-teacher’s meeting for 12 years of his life. I introduced him to the public library. I taught him wrong from right. I was not a substance abuser or an absent parent. We ate as a family each night when I did not have to work. I also held down 3 jobs to support my son. He grew up in an educated, working family. However, I never felt a need to worry until my son received his driver’s license. This is when the rules changed. My son went from being just an ordinary American male to a black or African
American male, who had to be taught the rules of the road as a black or African American male versus his White counterparts. It is unfair, it is unjust and it is maddening. But it is reality.

How could I ask him to understand something I did not understand myself? If you are an African American parent or parent(s) or person of color raising a light, brown, or black skinned male, what was your life experience? How many of you stayed up at night till your son came home? How many of you taught your son the 10 to 2 rule if he is pulled over by the police? How many of you worried when your son drove home from college out of state or vice versa? What about when your son relocated to a Southern state from a big city state like New York: Did you worry that the New York license plate would target him as suspect for drug dealing?

As an intensive case manager (at that time) and social work professional advocating for the rights of others, I work with white, light, brown and black skinned males between the ages of 6-21. As an intensive case manager, I provided advocacy services and linking population of clients served to resources in and out of the community. These services are based upon a client’s treatment plan goals. Nonetheless, there was one incident I do remember that took place in a local restaurant occupied by majority white patrons. This incident challenged my advocacy skills because it involved prejudice against two male youths of color, who happened to be clients of MHA. The two youths and I had just ended a socialization/recreational activity, which happened to be part of their treatment plan goal. Since they were hungry, I decided to finish the afternoon by treating them to a meal at a local restaurant before taking them home. When the youth finished their meal, it was time to pay the bill utilizing agency flex funds. The service was poor, so I decided not to leave a tip and complain privately to the owner. Before I could launch a complaint, a group of white women told the restaurant owner they saw the youths take money (tips) from the table we occupied. After being questioned by the owner; humiliated by the restaurant owner; and stared at by the group of white accusers, the two youths overheard the accusations and began denying it. They even went as far as proving their innocence by pulling their shirt and short pockets inside out. This was an embarrassing moment for the youths, and I was livid at seeing the youths reaction. When the restaurant owner learned I did not leave a tip at the table, he became apologetic, but it was too late. The damage was done as one of the youth said to me, “Mary, we did not steal any money: why did they blamed us?” I was plagued by so many emotions after hearing these words. I wanted to lash out, but was it the right thing to do in my professional role?

From a professional perspective, I have encountered many similar situations–different names, but same players. It’s disheartening but even more challenging to maintain a cool, calm composure while in the presence of youths, who are watching your every reaction. Various trainings and workshops have given me the tools to turn these unfortunate, distasteful experiences into fortunate teachable moments. The fortunate part about situations like these is that here at The Mental Health Association of Rockland (MHA) exists a Cultural Competency Committee, of which I was a member. The purpose of this committee is to ensure that ALL populations regardless of color, gender, disability, and culture are treated with dignity and respect. The Cultural Competency Committee is one of the most profound structural changing agents at The Mental Health Association. It is the “watchdog” for injustices experienced by our consumers and/or client population. The trainings provide skills that align with my value system then and now. As a huge advocate for children and adolescents, I am a firm believer that if injustices (racism, sexism, classism) faced by our youths of color continue to go unchecked and swept under the rug, it will continue to have a profound effect on children and adolescents and lead to more movements currently taking place in America today—“Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe”!!!

As your son’s role model, I want to leave you with these thoughts to ponder… what has or is your experience raising a male of color? If you are an adult male of color, how do you handle incidents of racial profiling in the presence of your son? In light of today’s headlines focusing on police brutality toward males of color, what advice do you give your 12 – 18 year old son who just received his driver’s license? Do you find that males of color, who are diagnosed with a serious emotional disorder get treated fairly in the justice system? What are you teaching your male(s) of color?
Mary Evans is the Senior Case Manager for the Children’s Case Management Program.
She can be reached at 845-267-2172, x272.
For additional information on our programs, please contact the Client & Family Advocate at 845-267-2172, x296.

Consoling Someone Who has Lost a Loved One to Suicide

How can you console someone who has lost a loved one to suicide?

Many people who have lost a loved one to suicide tell us what they want most is to know that people care about them and are not judging them or the loved one they are grieving. The death of a loved one through any cause is painful, but losing someone we love to suicide adds another layer of pain and emotions to the experience of loss.

In our attempt to help, we can listen to what has helped others in this situation:
• Be there even if you don’t know what to do or say. The comfort of food, flowers, donations to causes, offers to help with final plans, and babysitting, can bring some comfort to those who are grieving
• Mention by name the person who has died and talk about his/her positive qualities and what you loved about him/her. People don’t want their loved one to be forgotten.
• Listen to your friend’s experience and try to understand what he/she is going through. Sometimes we need to stop ourselves from saying what we might think is helpful, but doesn’t really help those in sorrow, such as “You’re so strong”, “time heals all wounds”, “you will love again”. Our best intentions can be offered in words like “We love you and ________ (lost loved one)”, “What can we do to be helpful right now?” and “How are you getting along?”
• Be aware that other relatives and friends such as children and grandparents can often be overlooked.
• Take care of yourself and know your limitations – when a friend is hurting it takes its toll on you, too.
• As time passes, people appreciate those who remember the anniversary date and birthday of their loved one because they don’t want that person to be forgotten and never mentioned.
• Suffering a loss to suicide is a long-term bereavement. Your acceptance of that and not expecting a person to “snap out of it” will be appreciated.
Resources:
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)

SOS Support Group for Survivors of Suicide, MHA of RC 845-267-2172
(A professionally facilitated group for those who have lost someone to suicide)

For more referral information, call our Client/Family Advocate – Nicole Sirignano, 845-267-2172, x296.

Author of blog – Marcella Amorese, Director, Children and Family Services, MHA Rockland, 845 267 2172 x324 amoreseM@mharockland.org

Should I Allow My Adult Child with Mental Illness to Move Back into My Home?

Should I Allow My Adult Child with Mental Illness to Move Back into My Home?

As parents we are often faced with the challenging decision as to how to best support our adult children.  How much help is too much help? How do we decide when we are helping and when we are hurting the growth and maturity process that we so desire in our children? When you compound this question with factors such as chronic medical and mental health concerns, the picture can become even more difficult to sort out.

When thinking this question through, there are several factors to consider:

Purpose/goal

What is the purpose of your adult child coming home? Are you extending your home as a way to help save money, to provide a layer of supervision, and or to help you with various responsibilities? These are all valid purposes that I recommend are clarified and discussed between you and your adult child. It is sometimes wise to write out the purpose to ensure that there is agreement. One of the most common reasons for living arrangements to be unsuccessful is due to the lack of agreement around Issues of purpose.

Time frame

How long are you willing to house your adult child? Are you expecting it to be a short term solution to an immediate crisis? Or, have you decided that she/he can stay as long as they want or need your help? How will you both know that it is time for her/him to move on? I would strongly urge you to have an open conversation with your adult child, clarifying your intention and inquiring as to how long they anticipate utilizing housing assistance from you. The best scenario will be one in which you both understand the expectations of the other and are working on being respectful of those expectations.

Responsibilities

Unmet expectation often arises from a lack of clarity around the responsibilities that are being ascribed to another. Before your adult child comes home, very clear expectations around who is responsible for what should be discussed and agreed upon. For example, are you expecting a financial contribution? If so, how much and how often do you expect payment? Are there household chores that you expect your child to participate in completing? If so, what are they, how often do you want them done and is there a special way to do them? It may be important to think of your adult child as an adult first and your child second when thinking about living together. This could aid in helping them continue to mature as adults, especially when and if they leave your home again.

Getting help

It’s important to get help in thinking through the option of allowing your adult child with a mental illness to move back into your home. It is always appropriate to seek advice from professionals. In many instances your adult child with mental illness is involved in treatment and may have a team of
professionals who are working with him/her and can shed light on this dilemma. For example, at MHA,we regularly engage family members and important individuals whom our members have identified to help them achieve their goals.

The long and short of it is that the decision to allow your adult child with mental illness to move home is a personal and individual decision based on many factors. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer that will fit every situation. However, with careful consideration, open and honest upfront discussion, and input from professionals, the best decision for you and your loved one can be attained.

Sylvia Wright, LMSW
Director
Adult Treatment and Rehabilitative Services