Newsletter – Issue 16 – July 2021
Janet Morgan has been a Mental Health Supports Clinician for Mainstream going on 4 years now. Her education is as follows: B.S. Criminal Justice Bluefield State College in 1989, A.S. Law Enforcement from Bluefield State College in 1989, She has completed master-level course work in criminal justice and psychology.
Janet has experience working in a substance abuse treatment facility working with people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. “Everyone was very paranoid and very negative against this population not only due to their disease but with most the population being gay. Working with the Hispanic which was a huge cultural difference coming from Southern WV going to not only New York City but dealing with a culture that I never had any interaction with before,” says Janet. Janet has a Qualified Substance Abuse Professional, Qualified Intellectual Development Disorder, and as a licensed social worker (LSW) as recognized in WV.
Janet has worked in the field for 33 years with all different populations and different situations and she used to be a case manager. There was a transition from being a case manager to working in mental health supports. The case manager is the one who fixes things for the client and the mental health supports is the person who teaches them how to fix things. Skills training prevents them from making the same mistakes over and over again or making poor choices. As a mental health support, Janet is the one who is providing them with education on how to access community services with this being a different outlook from a case manager position.
Also, in residential services for substance abuse, Janet did not enable patients by doing things for them because it was easier. She did hands on skill building since some of these people have never washed clothes or cooked because they were usually intoxicated. “Yes, you have to change gears and focus on skill building rather than just the substance abuse you also have to explain to them that there is success in life with the skill building that is greatly affected by their substance abuse,” says Janet.
“When I talk to them, I talk to them in a common language and when I give them more education about their mental health skill building, this allows them to be able to teach how to recognize those symptoms,” says Janet. Janet asks the client, “If you could have access to possibly anything you can think of that can help you right now, what things would you want to work on first?” This way, they learn to prioritize problems and learn about symptoms of mental illness. Training for them to recognize their specific symptoms allows them to learn to cope and reduce the stress they can feel by not understanding what is taking place. For families with children in school, she helps them understand that the school is not intended by singling their child out but there are very valid reasons as to why there is conflict. Janet helps them to question behaviors that the child may have at home that may be similar to what they are doing at school and to listen to the teacher. “When they are able to either repeat back and be able to use specific examples of how they’ve made improvements and when they realize that when they do make the changes, their lives are made better in most cases.”Some of them are resistant to making changes so a lot of times they will realize this when you see less conflict within themselves not just with other people but within themselves about who they are what they want to be,” says Janet.
Sometimes Janet will review with them the improvements she has seen, “because some of them don’t recognize and they are oh, ok, yeah you are right I’m not getting as angry, or I am able to handle these situations when they come up,” says Janet. They are able to see where they’ve made improvements when she sits down with them and recognizes that they are not having the conflicts and are maintaining boundaries. They take their medication even though they may think that they feel better and don’t need it, but they are able to go past that and recognize that they do need to take it.
Janet’s expertise in law and criminal justice helps clients who have legal issues to be able to refer them to the correct person and to explain to them what is going to take place and what the process is. For example, “how do you address a Commonwealth of VA attorney, especially a judge, and explain to them what charges either have been placed on them or if they feel as though they have been threatened or something has happened, I can explain to them what those specific terminology is and refer them to the correct place to follow through with the legal system,” says Janet. For Janet to have that background helps them feel more comfortable and secure and confident when they do go into court and talk to their lawyer.
“I have had clients who have been surly who have been not really wanted to respect what is taking place because they are angry at being charged of someone making accusations against them and being able to explain to them why it is important for them to present themselves in a certain way even though they feel the other person has wronged them,” says Janet. Addressing a court includes how you stand, your tone of voice, your choice of words, being able to speak and utilizing in court to talk to the attorney and learning to be open and honest with all parties. Her explanations in a common language have proven to be very successful. There are possible consequences for not following the court’s guidelines and this is the reason why it is so important.
The court can recommend things like parenting skills or anger management or just being compliant with treatment. The judge can order them, but an agency can’t make them have services. Janet has been subpoenaed to court and she had to tell the client so they can talk to their attorney to decide if it is in their best interest. If not, they can apply for a quash which means they can stop the subpoena and the release of information.
There are HIPAA and human rights considerations where Janet cannot even acknowledge that she even worked with the person and maintain that boundary no matter how many times they bring it up. “I wouldn’t want someone to talk about me and my personal life because clients are basically making themselves vulnerable because they are telling you a lot of things,” says Janet. Sometimes Janet works with families, and she has to have releases to be able to talk to them. “Even if the client wants you to talk to them you still have to have releases and they have to specify what they want you to share,” says Janet. Janet works really well where the family members struggle with mental illness. Perhaps there have been stress events and you have to let them know that it is ok not to do this anymore and to set boundaries. “You constantly have to sit down and think about what it is that I could say that might could help them understand where there is conflict and what may be causing the conflict,” says Janet.
Overall, Janet started out working in a treatment facility where she did not enable patients by doing things for them. Nevertheless, she moved to mental health supports where she provides them with training to help improve their lives. This includes education on recognizing mental health symptoms. Repeating specific examples is a way to realize improvements. Improvements help them realize they are not having conflicts. Janet helps clients with legal issues on how to address a court. She adheres to HIPAA and human rights regulations and does really well where the family members struggle with mental illness.
PSR Calendar for July
For a printable copy of this newsletter, click here.