Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Who people spend their time with by age.

 One of the protective factors for good mental health is social connections. Here is an interesting graphy of with whom people spend their time with by age.

Click on image to enlarge/

What's your age and with whom do you spend your time with?

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Re-entry to community life from prison




I have worked with many clients who have been incarcerated in prison. The longer the period of incarceration the greater the institutionalization and the harder the adjustment to life on the outside.


The three most helpful components of successful re-entry are a stable residence, an informal support system, and a job.


There is a very illuminating essay in the March, 2021 issue of the Sun Magazine by Saint James Harris Wood entitled, “I Still Don’t Feel Free.” Mr. Wood writes his essay after being incarcerated for 18 years for robbing banks with a toy gun to  support his drug habit.and released in his mid 60s.


This is one of a series of articles based on his essay.


For me, personally, the punishment of prison wasn’t the loss of free movement; I have a rich inner life that’s hard to suppress. My real punishment was being forced to cohabitate with antisocial, angry, or mentally ill men, 95 percent of whom had personalities defined by insults and moronic macho bullshit. Sure, a few were boon companions — good musicians and chess players and charming lunatics. Nonetheless I have had my fill of sharing a room with another man and will never do so again. I spent an extra month in my single prison cell rather than live in a halfway house for six months.


I have heard this complaint from many people who have been incarcerated. One person told me that he preferred solitary confinement or as it is called in New York State “SHU” for “Special Housing Unit.” He told me several times he refused to leave SHU and a couple of times when forced to leave and placed in what is called “Gen pop,” he would break the rules deliberately to be sent back to SHU.


This same dynamic might not be true for prisoners who join gangs in prison or gain control of the system in their cell block or dormitory or have jobs in the prison they like..


A little further Mr. Wood writes


The next day I see my parole agent, a social worker, and an overworked state psychiatrist, who is too busy trying to spot would-be murderers and arsonists to care about my problems and dispenses with me in two minutes. It would be nice to have a regular psychiatrist. I believe I have a type of post-traumatic stress.


Most clients who have PTSD from their incarceration don’t want to talk about it, but slowly, in a long term psychotherapy relationship, the stories bubble up and the person tells them with apparent relief that someone who cares about them nonjudgmentally understands.


Article #1 in a series on “I Still Don’t Feel Free”.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Purpose and meaning - Volunteer service - Bon Secours

Purpose and meaning


After basic needs are met for physical health and social well being, the need for purpose and meaning becomes paramount at all stages in the human life cycle. This realization leads one to consider volunteer service. A new feature is being added to this blog today intending to highlight opportunities for volunteer service.


The first opportunity is the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry in Baltimore, Maryland and Richmond VA. 

Here is the mission statement of Bon Secours from their website:


Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry, sponsored by the Sisters of Bon Secours, provides the opportunity for women and men to participate in the Sisters’ commitment to justice in radical solidarity with the poor, the suffering, and those most in need. By sharing the Bon Secours charism of compassion, healing, and liberation, the ministry nurtures and sustains individuals in their personal and communal journeys towards transformation through service with others.

To nurture this transformative journey, Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry supports individuals through a year of spiritual formation. The ministry is structured with five pillars that support this growth. Volunteers commit to: grow spiritually, develop an intentional community, live simply, practice God’s justice, and learn through service with others. Throughout this year, volunteers discover that by sharing the charism of compassion, healing, and liberation with others they, in turn, receive the charism from those they serve.

You can learn more by clicking here.

Friday, March 5, 2021

“911 operator, What’s your emergency?” Mental health emergencies

Daniel Prude died on 03/30/20 after an incident in which Rochester, NY police mishandled a 911 mental health emergency call on 03/23/20

“911 operator, What’s your emergency?”

People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians, according to a 2015 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center. That same year, a Washington Post investigation found that a quarter of the people shot by police in the United States were suffering from a mental or emotional crisis at the time of their death. Most of those officers were not responding to a crime, but rather to a call about a mentally fragile person behaving erratically.

Sojourners, March 2021, p34

LEAD and CAHOOTS both prove that it’s possible to respond to myriad crises without the police, thereby reducing harm in the community and lowering the potential for accidental injury and police misconduct.

The biggest barriers facing both programs are not that they don’t work. It’s that they’re still relatively unknown, underfunded, and only as good as the other social services available to treat chronic problems like homelessness, drug addiction, and poverty.

Sojourners, March 2021, p37

The better frame for this idea is not to defund the police, but to redirect some of the funding for militarized police to other emergency services focused on mental health emergencies.

In the March, 2021, there is a very good article in Sojourners Magazine entitled “911 operator. What is your emergency?” The article describes the concept and actual programs to respond to mental health emergencies in Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. There is increased interest in developing such programs in other cities and jurisdictions. Is there a mental health crisis team in your area? If so, how does it function?