Gratitude can change the world

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Research has shown that gratitude affects us in very real and significant ways.  Here are some things you can do to start developing an attitude of gratitude:

  1. Look for and notice the good things right around you.
  2. Be thankful for the little things.
  3. Write down what you are thankful for.
  4. Share your gratitude with others – tell people what you appreciate about them!
  5. Build a habit of gratitude –  reflect on, write down or share your gratitude with someone every day.

For more about the benefits of gratitude and how to cultivate it, click here.

The beautiful thing about gratitude is that it easily becomes so much more than a thought or feeling. When we become more grateful, we change and others notice. We feel differently, we talk differently and we treat others better. It seems like the world becomes a better place and, in fact, it does—thanks to gratitude.

-Excerpt from Healing Gratitude by Pamela Szalay

 

 

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Mental health workers recognized by MHANYS

2015 MHANYS award winnersLOCKPORT, NY – Two people from the Mental Health Association in Niagara County received recognition by the Mental Health Association of New York State for their outstanding work. Steven Ferguson, director of Peer Services, received the 2015 Staff Leadership Award and M. Patricia Hartmayer received the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award. Both attended the MHANYS Recognition Dinner in Albany last month.

Cheryl Blacklock, executive director of MHA in Niagara County, nominated Ferguson and Hartmayer.

“I couldn’t think of any two individuals more deserving of this recognition. Pat Hartmayer has been a friend of the MHA for more than 30 years and continues to volunteer for us. Steve Ferguson has taken on additional leadership responsibilities as his job expanded and has done a great job. We’re all very proud of both of them,” Blacklock said.

The Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc. has been serving Niagara County for more than 50 years. They offer many free and low-cost programs that promote mental wellness, provide needed services for those with a mental health diagnosis, and actively work to alleviate the stigma and public misunderstanding of mental illness.

Reprinted from Lockport Union-Sun & Journal 11/20/2015

Mental Health Summit: Worth Your Time on a Saturday!

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By Dr. Timothy Osberg, Professor of Psychology, Niagara University

We now have nearly 150 participants registered for the “Changing Our Minds: A Mental Health Summit” conference that will take place at the Castellani Museum this Saturday, September 19th from 10 am – 1 pm. We are hoping to “sell out the house” and reach the maximum 200 participants allowed in the CAM main gallery according to the fire code. We all know that mental health problems, among our students and in the broader community, are reaching a critical mass.

If you are thinking that giving up the first part of this Saturday is not worth attending a dry conference on a troubling societal problem that makes you uncomfortable – think again! It will not be that kind of conference as detailed below:

  • NU alum Maryalice Demler (Emcee), President, Fr. James Maher, and State Senator Robert Ortt, a champion of mental health in the Niagara County community, will help open the conference.
  • A dynamic keynote speaker, Eric Weaver, a former Rochester police sergeant, and founder of, Out of the Darkness, will present on overcoming stigma and mental illness.
  • Niagara University Theatre students, directed by Doug Zschiegner, will enact engaging situations that highlight how we need to respond differently to the subtle signs of psychological disorders that those around us might reveal.
  • There will be a panel discussion comprised of key local mental health professionals, from our campus and in the community, as well as peer advocates from the local area.
  • There will be a Resource Fair with key local mental health agencies represented.
  • Live musical entertainment by Nick Reding will be on hand, as will light refreshments (coffee, cookies, brownies, flavored water) during the conference.
  • Stay around and network afterwards, have some pizza for lunch, and make requests to our talented local acoustic guitarist!
  • And, yes, I am presenting at the conference on recognizing the signs of mental illness and supporting someone into the helping system.

If you care about the growing problem of mental health issues at NU and in our community, please consider attending! To register, click here. (Students, staff and faculty of Niagara University can register by emailing me at tosberg@niagara.edu.) Also, please forward this email message to people you know, so that we can form a community partnership on this critical problem!

I hope you will consider starting off this Saturday in the tradition of St. Vincent! We can all “Do More” to foster mental health in our community!

Tim

“Mental disease is no different than bodily disease and Christianity demands of the humane and powerful to protect, and the skillful to relieve, the one as well as the other.”

~St. Vincent dePaul

http://dailypost.niagara.edu/nu-will-host-changing-our-minds-a-mental-health-summit/

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/niagara-university/tragedies-underline-the-need-to-be-prepared-to-respond-to-mental-illness-20150903

Summit will raise awareness about mental health

COM logoFor immediate news release

7/20/2015

MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO BE OFFERED AT NIAGARA UNIVERSITY

In response to growing mental health needs in the community, the Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc., is teaming up with Niagara University and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to present “Changing Our Minds: A Mental Health Summit”. It is open to the public and is recommended for anyone who wants to be more aware and better prepared to respond to mental illness, both in the workplace and in everyday situations.

The summit will take place on Saturday, September 19, from 10 am to 1pm at Niagara University and the cost is $15 per person.

This compelling and engaging program will include dynamic speakers and presentations, demonstrations, useful training materials and more. Attendees will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness in those around them, and learn how to respond in a supportive manner in assisting people in accessing the mental health services they need.

Eric Weaver, a retired sergeant with the Rochester Police Department and the founder of Overcoming the Darkness, will be speaking on the importance of overcoming the stigma of mental health. Maryalice Demler, news anchor for WGRZ-TV in Buffalo and an alumna of Niagara University, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. The event will also feature a resource fair composed of vital local community service agencies, providing an opportunity for attendees to become familiar with the people and programs that support mental health.

Dr. Timothy Osberg, a professor of psychology at Niagara University who will be speaking at the summit, said mental health issues have been growing on campus as well as in the community.

“It is critically important that more people have the willingness and skills to help others in crisis so that fewer tragedies occur,” Dr. Osberg said.

Osberg believes the summit will provide all attendees — whether they are faculty, staff and students of Niagara University or members of the larger community — with the needed skills.

Mental Health Association in Niagara County Executive Director Cheryl Blacklock notes that with the rise in suicides among youth and the prevalence of mental health in general, the conference will play an important role in addressing the stigma of mental illness.

“We have to have open discussions about mental health if we are going to improve prevention and treatment,” Blacklock said.

“Educating and sensitizing members of the community is a vitally important task,” said Christopher Kijowski, LCSW, supervisor of outpatient behavioral health at Niagara Falls Memorial. “Compassion is an important value, as it helps to confirm the belief that the transformation of the mind and heart are possible for every human being.”

Businesses and other organizations are encouraged to send at least one employee to attend the summit, and to designate that person as a “mental health ambassador.”

For more information, call the Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc., at (716) 433-3780, ext. 304. To register online, visit www.mhanc.com.

The Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc. is funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the Niagara County Department of Mental Health, the United Way of Greater Niagara, the United Way of the Tonawandas, grants, memberships and voluntary contributions.

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Video clips that help reduce the stigma of mental illness

It can be challenging to talk about mental health issues, but that is one of the reasons stigma survives. These clips can help make it easier to start a conversation, as they feature famous celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports who are willing to share openly about their own struggles. There are many things we can learn from hearing their stories, including the lesson that mental illness is treatable!

First, here is Demi Lovato speaking out about Bipolar Disorder and the difficulties of having a mental health diagnosis. Length: 8 min

In this next clip, numerous celebrities discuss the stigma of mental health and how it affects us all. Length: 3.5 min

Here is a great slideshow featuring celebrities over the years who have suffered from mental health disorders. Length: 13.5 min

For an helpful overview of mental health, here is a short clip from Australia with great graphics. Length: 2.5 min

We hope you find them useful, and please let us know what other videos you have found helpful by leaving a comment below.

Local Church Provides Blue Christmas Service to the Community

MHA in Niagara County is sharing this on behalf of the “Blue Christmas Service” organizers.

WinterMost people think of Christmas as a happy time for families and friends. But for some people, the holidays just intensify feelings of sadness if they’re going through rough times. That why the Rev. Dr. Skilbred is offering the fifth annual “Blue Christmas” service at First English Lutheran Church in Lockport, NY.

Whether you are feeling blue, have lost a loved one to death, divorce or illness or are unable to recover your health, job or identity as you once knew it, the Blue Christmas service provides a coming together of people who understand that life has seasons of sadness and that grief needs room to breath in safe places. Members of the congregation and people from all walks of life in the community are invited to attend this special service.

When: Sunday, December 21, 2014

Time: 7:00 pm (sanctuary)

Where: First English Lutheran Church, 185 Locust Street, Lockport, NY.


The Mental Health Association in Niagara County and the Niagara County Department of Mental Health together provide residents of Niagara County, New York,  with Information and Referral services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Need Help? Call the Help Line: (716) 433-3780.

Our Help Book is available as a pdf download from our website.

Please consider supporting the programs and services of MHA Niagara with a membership or one-time donation. You can learn more more about us by visiting our website.

Robin Williams’ Suicide Brings Mental Health Issues to the Forefront

By Stacy Knott, Coordinator, Compeer Niagara for Adults
sbowman@mhanc.comTransit Drive In

“While we are deeply saddened by Mr. Williams’ unfortunate passing, we can celebrate his greatest efforts to lift our spirits by entertaining us with his movies, while hoping to provide help to others who someday may need their own spirits lifted on their darkest of days.” – Transit Drive-In

Note: This past fall, the Transit Drive-In Theater in Lockport, NY, selected the Mental Health Association in Niagara County as the designated charity for a Robin Williams triple feature film tribute on Labor Day weekend, as well as a double-feature tribute the following weekend. During the films, the Mental Health Association was on-hand to present educational materials to the public at an information booth. Stacy Knott managed the table several evenings and observed the public reaction.

I personally had the pleasure of sitting at the table for hours and disseminated countless pieces of literature but what struck me the most were the questions from so many in wonder of how could someone with so much going for them, possibly feel depressed to the point of suicide? It made no sense to them that an individual with so much money and fame could take their own life. Undoubtedly, there’s a certain amount of reason for this belief but the reality is that depression (like all mental illnesses) doesn’t take personal factors into account. Depression can affect anyone at any time.

I also discovered by running the table that the stigma of a mental illness is a huge problem. It was almost as though many feared approaching the table because the table cloth read “Mental Health Association”. Each time I walked away and the table was “safe” to approach for free information, several gathered round. Although I was elated that the information was being sought out, it was disheartening to see firsthand that people with a mental illness often suffer more from the stigma than they do from the illness itself. It drives many away from getting the professional help they need based on fear of what others will think.

Williams actually died of a disease—a terrible, terrible disease. Depression consumed the man, and it killed him, too, even if it used his hands to do it. I can’t help but think: if we as a society talked more frankly and openly and without shame about depression, if we took depression more seriously as a disease rather than as an issue of deficient willpower or character, maybe we wouldn’t lose so many irreplaceable  people—our heroes, our visionaries, our friends, our family—year after year”

-Graham Bishop

Typically, glamorizing suicide is the absolute worst thing you can do but in Williams’ death, it seems as though the media created an opportunity for people to open up about their own struggles. Thank you, Transit Drive-In, for offering this tribute and for selecting our agency to participate. Our agency searches for various opportunities to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. It is the selfless generosity from large-hearted people that continue to make it possible for us to take on this issue.


This article first appeared in 2014 fall edition of our newsletter, The Voice.

Mental Health Association offers “Before I Die” wall to the community

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Board created by staff of MHA in Niagara County.

May is a special month to the Mental Health Association in Niagara County. Not only do we promote May is Mental Health Month, but we are celebrating our 50th year of service to the community. Our age makes us reflect: what have we accomplished? What is yet to be done? Are we making a difference?

Our executive director, Cheryl Blacklock, recently learned about the “Before I Die” project, which is essentially a global art project that invites people to write on enormous blackboards in response to the prompt, “Before I die…” This opportunity to publicly express private aspirations has generated a strong response from people all around the world. Community boards have sprung up around the U.S. and in faraway places like Australia and Taiwan.

Here at our office in Lockport, NY, the MHA staff started their own project by making use of an existing whiteboard in our conference room. Responses so far have ranged from “Before I die I hope I can travel the world” to “Before I die I want to invent something.” Our board has inspired many of us to reflect, and our responses have sparked many conversations around the lunch table.

We want to invite you to write on our board, too!  No matter where you live, you can participate. If you are local, feel free to visit our office at 36 Pine Street, Lockport, NY and add to the board we started in our conference room. If you are not local, or just can’t make it to the office, we invite anyone reading this to contribute to our virtual board using the form below. That way, wherever you are, you can be a part of our community.

To participate virtually, just enter your thoughts in the form and click “submit”–your response will be added to the MHA Niagara community project. You can see all the responses people have submitted here.

Of course, if you wish you can submit online and come and write on our office board. While you’re here, you can visit our resource library or pickup a free brochure about a mental wellness topic. You can also join the Mental Health Association in Niagara County, ensuring that our services and programs continue to meet the needs of our community. We offer individual memberships starting at just $15 for the year! For more information about our programs and services, please visit our website at mhanc.com.

Be well,

Pamela Szalay

Coordinator of Publicity, Community Education and Referral at the Mental Health Association in Niagara County, Inc.

Celebrating 50 Years of Service to the Community of Niagara County

NEWS RELEASE

This May marks a milestone for the Mental Health Association in Niagara County (MHA): they are celebrating 50 years of service to the community of Niagara County. MHA invites the public to join them in celebration at a reception on May 13th, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., at the Tuscarora Inn on Walnut Street in Lockport. The evening will feature hors d’oeuvres, live music, cash bar, a short ceremony and the opportunity to meet our staff and Board of Directors. Tickets are $25, and the MHA requests an RSVP by May 6th.

During the past 50 years, many changes have taken place concerning those with a mental illness and those who provide care for them. In the early 1960’s, there were more than 500,000 individuals locked up in mental institutions throughout America. Because of several changes in mental health and labor laws many doors to asylums were closed leaving thousands of individuals on their own, many for the first time in their lives. Many had no family or friends to turn to. Some wandered and found themselves in homeless shelters, nursing homes, on the streets, and in many instances, in the judicial system.

The MHA has worked diligently to provide the best services available for those with a mental illness, even extending support services to their families. Last year alone, the MHA served more than 98,000 people through their programs and services, including Compeer, In-Home-Respite, various support groups, our information and referral services, educational presentations and trainings, and online resources including our website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

They are proud to be a Peer-Led Agency with an open door policy. Most services are free of charge and every effort is made to go where services are needed. Presentations are provided on the topics of anger management, domestic violence, self-esteem, bullying, suicide prevention, healthy living and much more. These presentations can be scaled to reach individuals as well as larger groups.

The MHA seeks to have the most accurate, up-to-date, professional information and referral program available. Since 1981, the MHA has published and distributed tens-of-thousands of Help Books, a pocket-sized directory of community services now in its 28th edition. Together with the Help Line and website, and through its partnership with the Niagara County Department of Mental Health, the MHA is able to offer information and referral 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

MHA is very fortunate to receive funding through the United Way of Greater Niagara, the United Way of the Tonawanda’s, the Niagara County Department of Mental Health, private donations, membership fees and grants. MHA looks forward to continuing to provide essential programs and services to Niagara County residents for many more years.

Long-time Staffer Sees Big Challenges in Mental Health Field

By Betty Intihar, Front Office Assistant at the Mental Health Association in Niagara CountyImage

Hello, my name is Betty Intihar and I have been an employee of the MHA for 28 years. The Compeer Niagara program had just begun in Niagara County and I was the first person hired. Now I work at the front desk of our office on 36 Pine Street, Lockport, answering calls and helping anyone who comes by. If you call our Help Line, you may just get me!

Over the years, I have seen many good things happen in the mental health field: positive, new medications; more advocacy for mental health services; more peer-led support groups; better hospital advocates; and many new programs that enrich the lives of our clients. I have even seen some promising models for mental health services, such as the clubhouse model. A clubhouse would offer consumers a safe place to be with friends and enjoy some coffee and conversation. Sadly, that approach ended several years ago and no real replacement has been found. But we try to do what we can through our Help Line, and will often spend a few minutes talking to someone who just needs a friendly voice.

Many other challenges remain. With state money drying up, many mental health programs have had to close, let go valued workers, or offer fewer services.  Many organizations now operate with fewer social workers, and those that remain must handle a larger client load. Also, hospital mental health units for adults and children are being closed, leaving families in Niagara County with limited options.

There are also challenges in the areas of housing and transportation. In housing, I have found that there are many landlords who take advantage of clients. Affordable, safe housing is a rare find, and often what is available is old and unsafe.  As for transportation, that has remained a problem for all the years I have been in this field. For example, limited bus schedules between Lockport and Niagara Falls can mean traveling all morning for a 30-minute afternoon appointment. This kind of time commitment can require missing an entire day of work, and that just doesn’t seem fair.

The MHA is now entering its 50th year and I am proud to say I have been here for about two-thirds of it! I have enjoyed my work and the staff I have worked with over the years. The work we do for our clients and families is very important, and the dedication from our staff is outstanding. If you have never utilized any of our services, which include a wonderful resource library and free informational brochures, I invite you to come visit us. Most people don’t know who we are until they need us. Why not see what we have to offer? We are here for you!  ◊