Category Archives: relationships

Removing stigma of mental illiness so important

By The Daily Herald Editorial Board

It was one of those special days when the black clouds part for people suffering from mental illness. For people who care for and about people with mental illness. For all of us.

On Monday, President Obama called for the hushed conversation about mental health to be drawn from the shadows and be brought into the national consciousness.

In opening a White House conference on mental health, Obama said those affected by mental illness should know they don’t have to suffer in silence.

“Struggling with a mental illness or caring for someone who does can be isolating,” he said. “It begins to feel as if not only are you alone but that you shouldn’t burden others with the challenge.”

He trotted out actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close, both of whom have played memorable mentally ill characters, to give the discussion some Hollywood cachet.

Closer to home, how serendipitous that Myers Place — a long-anticipated 39-unit apartment building for people who are disabled, mentally ill or formerly homeless but have the ability to live independently — opened the same day in Mount Prospect.

And that the village of Wheeling on Monday night settled with the developers of PhilHaven, a proposed 50-unit building for low-income residents who have mental illness but can live independently.

The Wheeling village board had fought PhilHaven’s construction by rejecting it twice — overruling the recommendation of the village plan commission. A judge, however, called the village’s rejection discriminatory after the developers sued and gave village leaders no confidence they could prevail.

Myers Place is the first supportive housing development in the Northwest suburbs, and residents will begin to move in this week. With all 39 units filled, there are still more than 300 people on a waiting list, said Jessica Berzac, with the Daveri Development Group, which built Myers Place, will build PhilHaven and has plans for similar projects in Palatine and other towns.

In Washington, the administration laid out an agenda that includes discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans.

Local news stories here continue to illustrate how acute the problems of drug use and suicide are in the suburbs.

Nationally, the overarching goals are to reduce the stigma of mental health problems and encourage those who are struggling to get help.

Let’s hope that as time wears on, prejudices and fears about facilities like Myers Place and PhilHaven ebb.

“These are individuals who desire the same things we all do,” Berzac said. “A safe place to live that they can call home.”

9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier


9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier

IncBy Geoffrey James | Inc – Thu, Dec 20, 2012 6:39 PM EST

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s almost impossible to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself.

With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you’re like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with expectation.

If there’s any big truth about life, it’s that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: “something wonderful is going to happen today.” Guess what? You’re probably right.

2. Take time to plan and prioritize.

The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do.  Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

3. Give a gift to everyone you meet.

I’m not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change.

4. Deflect partisan conversations.

Arguments about politics and religion never have a “right” answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can’t control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: “Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt.”

5. Assume people have good intentions.

Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the “why” behind the “what” that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.

6. Eat high quality food slowly.

Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it.

7. Let go of your results.

The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you’ve taken action, there’s usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen.

8. Turn off “background” TV.

Many households leave their TVs on as “background noise” while they’re doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer?

9. End each day with gratitude.

Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.

Childhood mental illness

sad child image

By Kelli Miller
WebMD Health News

Childhood mental illness is a public health crisis that needs increased awareness and intervention, according to a report released today by the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health care for children. “The Children’s Mental Health Report” reveals that more kids are living with a psychiatric disease than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. And yet, few are getting the help they need – making them more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and get tangled in the juvenile justice system. Harold Koplewicz, MD, the institute’s co-founder and president, talks about the key findings and what parents can do to keep their kids healthy.

Q: What is most significant finding in the Children’s Mental Health Report?

A: It’s the number of children in the United States who are suffering from these disorders. The fact is, 17.1 million young people up to the age of 18 have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. These are the most common conditions of childhood and adolescence. To give you some reference, there are 7.1 million American kids who have asthma. There are 200,000 American kids under the age of 20 who have diabetes. There are 7 million American kids who have peanut allergies. And yet we have 17.1 million young people with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. This is a true public health crisis. I think the other important issue is that more than two-thirds of these kids don’t get help.

Q: Are there more kids with these illnesses than in the past?

A: No, I don’t think so. Let’s take obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example. (It) was thought in the 1980s to (affect) 1 percent of the children that came to a psychiatric clinic. So that’s 1 in 100 of psychiatrically ill children. Today, we recognize it’s 3 percent of the general population, or 3 in 100 of children in general. How did that happen? Did it go into the water? Is it something in the electrical wires? How could you have such a massive increase?

What happened were two things. A medication came out called anafranil that turned out to be incredibly effective in treating kids with (mental health) disorders. Then, a group of psychologists developed a treatment program called exposure response prevention, which was incredibly effective in treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) symptoms. Then people started talking about it. A woman named Judy Rapoport from the National Institute on Mental Health wrote a book called The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing. So, all of a sudden, you have two effective treatments and some public awareness, and people came out of the closet. When they were told they could treat it, they were no longer ashamed of it. With a lot of these diseases, people try to keep to themselves. They are holding back. They don’t want people to know how much they are suffering.

Q: Why do you think stigma remains around mental health?

A: One of the biggest problems we have is that we do not have a blood test or an objective test that finds that someone has the illness. We still make the diagnosis the way we did for years with heart disease. We take a history — we say if your chest hurts and the pain is radiating down your left arm, you might be having a heart attack. Now, we have measurements and tools that can measure (heart problems). In psychiatry, however, we are looking at behavior. We look to see if kids are behaving in a certain way that is different from normal. We ask, ‘How severely different is it than what we consider normal?’ I think also as parents, when we don’t understand something, we are ashamed of it, and we feel guilty about it, and so we deny that fact that our kids have it. We are so willing to say ‘Oh, they are just being a boy,’ or, ‘They are just a moody teenager.’ We are not embracing the fact how real, common, and treatable these conditions are, which is contributing to the public health crisis.

Q: How can parents recognize that their children have a mental health disorder?

A: The most important thing is, the parents have to know their kids. They have to recognize what their appetite, sleep pattern, social activities, and academic performance are like. When there are changes in that behavior, that should be a red flag. It’s important to consider that there is a general discrepancy between a parent’s and child’s report on the degree and nature of the illness. Children report more illness about themselves than their parents report about them, particularly if they are anxious or depressed. Parents don’t see the symptoms as often as the child does. That means if a parent sees a change, they shouldn’t wait. It’s most likely more severe than they suspect. (A child does not naturally talk) about how worried, sad, or irritable they are.

Q: What happens when a child with mental illness is not treated?

A: I think the worst thing that that can happen to a child is they can have damage to their self-esteem. They start feeling ‘less than’ or inadequate. That happens if they are put in situations where they don’t have the skills to succeed or to thrive. If we pretend that a child doesn’t have a problem, and yet they can’t sit still or pay attention as long as other kids, or they can’t pick up the language the way everyone else can, or they’re so anxious that they can’t concentrate, we put children into a real-life situation on a daily basis where they are feeling truly inadequate. They become demoralized. They want to avoid that situation.

That, in my opinion, is what contributes to the high rate of academic failure and school dropouts that occurs with kids who have a psychiatric diagnosis. Seventy percent of the youth in juvenile justice settings have a psychiatric diagnosis. We know that left untreated, kids start feeling bad, and when someone feels bad in a situation they try to avoid it. Once you start avoiding school you are more at risk for bad things happening to you.

Q: Your report recommends using medications in combination with psychotherapy as the most effective way to treat mental illness in kids. What would you say to parents who may be reluctant to put their child on medication?

A: I think if you read the report very carefully, we are talking about medication for very specific disorders. We are talking about medication for ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. What’s really interesting is we are using data from national studies that compared medication to other things, whether it’s a placebo or specific talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of talk therapy with medication. So parents who read this will be better informed about how well this works.

For instance, look at the treatment for anxiety. We show that combination therapy effectiveness after 12 weeks is 81 percent using Zoloft along with cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy and Zoloft alone are about the same, 60 percent and 55 percent. But at 36 weeks later, each one (is about the same) rate. Combination therapy, behavioral therapy alone, and Zoloft alone come to 83, 80, and 82 percent. So a parent looks at this and says “OK, my kid can get better in 12 weeks if he uses the medication and the behavioral therapy. If we wait long enough, behavioral therapy alone will get us to the same treatment (success) rate.”

But how much longer do you want your kid to suffer? During the first few weeks when the kid isn’t well, he won’t be attending school (and) he might not be able to sleep in his own bed. At least now, parents have the ability to look at this report and understand the effectiveness of … evidence-based treatments. The Child Mind Institute doesn’t accept money from the pharmaceutical industry, which I think puts us in a very unique position. So when we are telling you some of the most effective treatments are medicine, we, as physicians and clinicians are talking about what we know from nationally federally funded studies. Not studies funded by the drug companies.

Q: What else should parents know about mental health treatment?

A: Sometimes, a child will need more than just therapy and one medicine. You might need two medicines. Some of these are hard conditions to treat. I think for parents who are concerned about using medication, they need to have an understanding of medicine works. Medicine seems to give a quicker response, and gets your kid less symptomatic, faster. But by no stretch of the imagination is medicine a magic bullet. Cognitive behavioral therapy can really make a world of difference in the long run for these kids.

Q: Finding help for a child can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, as many providers do not take insurance. What can be done to make this easier for parents?

A: We have produced a guide online called Parents’ Guide to Getting Good Care. I wouldn’t hire an architect, for example, without a guide. And yet parents are so worried and distressed when they finally decide to get mental health care for their kids, they don’t do the due diligence process that we think is necessary. So we’ve created a guide that gives parents the right questions to ask. It describes the difference between the types of mental health professionals. The guide also helps them find the right person to help their child in their neighborhood. There is also a symptom checker on our web site that gives them some idea of what may be troubling their child. This is where parents really need help. They need to understand when their child is in trouble and they have to make sure they are getting their kids truly effective treatment.

Parents have a hard job. Definitely part of the requirement of being a good parent is to not to deny when you see symptoms. In the hopes that you want your kids to be healthy, sometimes we tend to look the other way. But this is really one of those times when looking the other

Challenge yourself.

Grace and love are the essence of God. “God is love,”  writes the apostle John(1John 4:8).  When have you been touched by God’s love or grace, and how has his love affected you? 

( Dr. Henry Cloud, Changes that Heal.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of “big, thoughts from Maria Kim

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of “big”, and how that has bombarded me over the decades – the big hair of my teen years, the big envy of the houses on the other side of the tracks, and the more recent iterations of big through “mega deals” and “super size” and “the most dramatic rose ceremony EVER”. And I realize, with increasing clarity that bigger isn’t always better. In fact, bigger – without a plan to stay bigger – is sometimes just a bust.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m writing today’s blog from the heart of Seattle – on the perimeter of Pike Place Market, where artisanal business is the norm (in fact, it’s required – no chains are allowed), and where micro (as in enterprise) is sexy. This place – this philosophy, this ecosystem even – is a vibrant metaphor for not just what social enterprise is, but what social enterprise could be – small (and in some cases artisanal) businesses with a big, fat, complex social mission.

I think it’s no coincidence that this is where I was moved to put pen to paper, because it inspires a clean re-framing of current expectations on social enterprise. Let’s convert today’s expectation, to tomorrow’s recognition.  Here’s what I mean:

Social enterprise is a business that’s doing social good. 

As was teed up in a recent REDF convening, the term “social enterprise” is amorphous and can mean different things to different people. And since we all share the niche of being social enterprises under the umbrella of workforce development, we have an even larger challenge to confront.  In our case, social enterprise is a business that’s producing a good or service – the delivery of which builds skills and employability in the process (an even higher bar to achieve).

As social enterprises, we are in a class (and a set of expectations) unto ourselves.

We must recognize that we are small businesses with the compounded stresses of a double bottom line – not just profitability, but also promise-ability – giving adults affected by poverty the opportunity for long-term employment.

Mission drives market.

Small businesses should only be created to address market needs.  Small businesses created exclusively to build skills of its employees, but not to provide value to the market, simply cannot survive.

All growth is good growth.

Sustainable growth is good growth.  Everything else puts your business at risk.

Economies of scale are linear. 

We don’t just produce goods or services, we develop people; and those people reach their pivot point to their next step at an unpredictable cadence.  So our economies of scale are therefore a bit lumpier than our private sector competition.

My hope is that as we look in the mirror and recognize who we are – small businesses with the added complexity of not just one, but two, bottom lines (the social bottom line often achieved at the expense of the business bottom line), then we will better subject ourselves to the rigor and reality of traditional small business.

We can then embrace stronger decision making – perhaps following this arc:
1. Ideate your idea.
2. Test it to develop proof of concept.
3. Incubate it.
4. Make a decision to build or not build it based on incubation results.
5. Keep trucking until you achieve sustainability.

This framework seems clean and in some cases kind of “duh”; but the reality is our industry is often buoyed by the optimism of passionate socially-driven leadership, and the power of belief (“a great idea, leveraging people in need to build skills while they bring that idea to market, must work”). And so our industry is flooded with many businesses that skip right from step 1 to step 4 in the rubric above. (At The Cara Program, we only have the “duh” wisdom to put such a rubric in place because we’ve skinned our knees a few times trying to accelerate the process before its due time.)

Small business is tough. Small business with a mission to get its best staff employed elsewhere is even tougher. Marginal cost calculations are not overtly easy to calculate – because we are not just managing inventory of product, or streamlining delivery of service, we are managing the development of people and responding to the ebb and flow demand of private sector employment. Compound all of this with the fact that operational efficiency is sometimes achieved at the expense of mission, and you begin to understand how social enterprise for jobs is – on the spectrum of difficulty – perhaps the most difficult small business archetype of all.

So let’s talk about it. Let’s respond to an active and recurring invitation to talk about our ugly, to lift up our failures in this work, to draw into question our sustainability (or lack thereof). We believe that this is what will – in the end – make this work sustainable, not just for the businesses, but for the missions of lifting individuals up through employment, and helping them pivot to self-sufficiency.

Indeed, bigger is “meh”. Sustainability is sexy.

– Maria Kim left the insurance industry after 13 years, where she ran a $400m technology division, and joined The Cara Program in 2005 – a workforce development and leadership development organization helping men and women affected by homelessness and poverty to secure and sustain quality employment.  Maria serves on the boards of directors for EPIC Academy and Chicago Women in Philanthropy. She was a fellow for Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2008, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow and a 2013 TEDxMidwest Emerging Leader.  Maria received her MBA through the Executive MBA Program of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.