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Newsletter – Issue 18 – September 2021

Mental Illness vs. Mental Health

The entire point of treatment is to move from illness into health.  At Mainstream Mental Health, all the employees received a t-shirt that reads, “mental health begins with me.”  Everyone needs to take care of their mental health.   Having a mental health diagnosis is not a doom in life, but something to take action about.  In fact, having a diagnosis may put you in a category of being vulnerable, which makes ethics all the more important with the delivery of mental health services.  Dean East is the Clinical Director at Mainstream and he believes the counselor should not put their values into what the patient’s situation is.  “Understanding and knowing what the individual is experiencing, what their cultural background is, and  what their social norms are in  their community is an important ethical issue.”

According to the report, (Self-Healing Communities, 2016, p. 10) “social problems frequently arise from cultural patterns that have developed in one group over time, often as adaptations to adverse circumstances over which people had little control.  These cultures (or subcultures) emerge literally as a response to adversity, and they may appear deviant to mainstream individuals.” 

Dean East says, “there is a lot of what we call self-defeating behaviors.  Those self-defeating behaviors are often repetitive behaviors that derail you from moving forward in life.”  He continues, “We may be in a community where there are self-defeating behaviors that are actually norms.  But when they get outside their community, the behavior becomes deviant to the mainstream population.”

An example may be views on police where there may be distrust in many situations, or there may be blame and a belief system that goes along with that.   People are motivated to overcome the self-defeating behavior when they are facing negative consequences from thought patterns and the negative that can happen from a belief system.  

Dean says, “So I think you run the risk as a counselor by placing any type of value system onto someone else because we are not going to understand what their reality is, what they’ve dealt with, and the hardships that they’ve had.  I think it is a real tricky place for counselors to be to truly engaged in active listening, understanding, and challenging self-defeating behaviors without invalidating cultural norms.”

Dean East continues, “If you are not looking through the lens of their lives then I think you are doing a disservice to that individual.  I can’t take my life experience and just apply it to somebody else.  That is not going to work.”  You can give examples of what you’ve had success with in the past, but the reality of the patient may be a very different view.    

“I dislike the whole thought process of any type of criminal element in regard to mentally ill.  I do not believe that is the case,” says Dean.   He had a profound experience with a patient that was experiencing a need for hospitalization.   This individual was treated poorly by the system and it changed my outlook and determination  for mental health change. “I said never again am I going to let anything like this happen, so one of the things that I’ve done through my career is work to normalize mental health and to go to the police and talk to the police captains and talked with individuals about how do we have a better system of care, and how do we change  this process. I have actually seen officers change tactics when dealing with mental health issues and TDO’s,  and find more humane ways  of communicating and implementing law enforcement procedures”.

Mainstream Mental Health Services replaces the maladaptive behaviors with new strategies and new skills.  Mental health supports does constant education and training which allows the individual  to go out and practice in the community.  PSR has a group modality where the client learns social behaviors and appropriate ways of interacting.   This happens in a safe place to learn without judgement and to work on goals.  The current programs of Mainstream Mental Health are as follows:

  • Skill Building
  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation
  • Outpatient Counseling
  • IOP Substance Abuse
  • Crisis Services

Once the client is taught and trained through reinforcement of events and situations that promote positive outcomes, they are ready for discharge.  A success story is someone who graduates from the program because they know how to get public transportation, they are buying their own groceries, they are getting nutritious meals and they are taking their medication.  They are doing all the things they need to do.  This is also a  tremendous success because a person has taken the step  to get themselves help.  What can lead to a monumental success in the community is  for individuals to step into help, whether it be crisis or PSR or mental health skill building or outpatient counseling.  For someone to begin their journey towards healing is a big success. 

Porter, L. & Martin, K. & Anda, R. (2016, June). Self-Healing Communities. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

PSR Calendar for September

For a printable copy of this newsletter, click here.

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