Category Archives: MHAM News & Events

The Last Gold Leaf Releases EP Opaque

By Derrick Keith, Band Member, The Last Gold Leaf

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When I was sixteen my parents bought be my first guitar as an Easter present. I never thought of myself as a musician. I was the kind of kid that spent endless hours locked away in my room, pencil in hand, drawing feverishly, seeking desperately to express the fanciful worlds in my head into images on a page. In fact, even as I began writing songs I never imagined I would seek to make a career out of music.

Picking up that guitar unlocked an urgency in me. I found that others could identify with the loneliness and depression that informed my music. And that made us all a little less lonely, the days seem just a little bit brighter. I was hooked and there was no looking back. I set out to find that connection on a larger and larger scale.

If I were to try to sum up my goal as a songwriter in one word I think it would be “fearless.” I believe my role as an artist is to bring light to those dark places in our psyche that we become afraid to talk about. The unpretty things: addiction, poverty, hunger, betrayal. It seems as if our culture is almost engineered to isolate ourselves from one another. But it’s in recognizing our griefs, our failures, in forgiving that we can tear down the walls we built originally to protect us. The walls we found cut us off from our lifelines.

I have seen friends, family members, lovers, strangers in deep hurt. In need of help. Become helpless. But I believe in the power of music to heal. To foster community. To open up wounds to draw the infection out. I seek to bring to the surface the ugliness so we can accept one another.

That’s why I reached out to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota (MHAM). Music can raise the questions, but MHAM has the resources to help heal the wounds. None of us can do it alone. According to the National Institute on Mental Health’s website, In 2012 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and above were diagnosed with mental illnesses. That’s almost 2 out of every 10 people. And that’s just the people seeking help.

If you or a loved one you know have questions, seek help.

The Mental Health Association of Minnesota is proud to support the band The Last Gold Leaf in their upcoming EP release party for their new album Opaque. Through this release party for the EP Opaque, The Last Gold Leaf hopes to generate awareness of mental health and point people in the right direction to find treatment and services for mental illnesses.  Staff from MHAM will be at the party to share information about mental health and our services. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Mental Health Association of Minnesota.

Guests include: Parachute Empire, The Lost Wheels, and Kara Doten

Featuring photography by Haythem Lafaj

Location
The Stu
77 13th Ave NE
MInneapolis, MN

Cost: $11

Purchase tickets here.

Henry’s Story

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At MHAM, we depend on individual donors to support our mission to enhance mental health, promote individual empowerment, and increase access to treatment and services for people living with mental illnesses. You can help us by contributing to MHAM through Give to the Max Day tomorrow, November 14. What’s more, your donation will be matched by our Board of Directors up to $10,000Simply visit our page at GiveMN.org, enter the donation amount you’d like to make, and follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You will help people like Henry.

The sun shone brightly and the temperature was perfect as Henry made his way to visit family and friends in a nearby community. The world looked good, and Henry drove toward his destination with anticipation boosted by an elevated level of mania. With his history of bipolar, Henry suspected he was feeling so good because was he was becoming manic. He knew that mania often resulted in problems in his life, but he also knew that it felt a whole lot better than those days when he was caught in the grip of depression.

Henry’s good day went downhill fast. Suddenly, he saw flashing red lights behind him. He had stopped quickly at a stop sign and then made a right turn without signaling. A police officer approached Henry’s car. The flashing lights and the uniform caused Henry’s stress level and mania to increase. He started to talk fast and loud. Instead of staying in the car, he tried to exit to explain to the officer. The officer thought Henry had been drinking.

Henry was taken to a detox center where he was tested for alcohol and other drugs. They found he had a very low level of alcohol–well below the legal limit for driving. However, once he was admitted to the detox center, he was stuck there for the next couple of days. Henry had neither his medication for bipolar disorder, nor medication for a separate physical condition. He did not need to be in detox. Henry should have gone to the hospital where he could get treatment for his bipolar disorder.

Henry eventually called MHAM because he was billed by the detox center for his time there. Henry is on Social Security Disability and cannot afford a large medical bill. Moreover, the detox center should be covered under Medicare. Henry and his advocate contacted a Medicare representative, who told them that a bill was not submitted to Medicare for the detox center. The advocate then helped Henry set up some conference calls with the county and the detox center in an attempt to figure out what happened. As it turns out, a police transport brought Henry to a detox center from a neighboring county. The detox center did not bill Medicare, but instead billed the county that transported Henry to the center. The transporting county then billed Henry. After talking to staff in both areas, it was clear that the detox center needed to send the bill to Medicare and not to the transporting county. Henry was pleased that the issue of the bill was resolved. However, a larger issue still stands. This problem would not have come up if Henry had been treated for his bipolar disorder at a hospital or clinic rather than held in a detox center when no detoxification was needed.

Give to the Max on November 14!

The Great Minnesota Give Together is a week away! On Thursday, November 14, MHAM will participate in its fifth Give to the Max Day through GiveMN.org. And, we are pleased to announce that the MHAM Board of Directors has offered a very generous matching grant to help MHAM reach its year-end fundraising goal of $25,000. The Board will match all donations made to MHAM from November 1 through the end of the year up to $10,000. Give to the Max Day also provides many other opportunities for MHAM to raise additional funds.

Each year generous supporters like you join us for the exciting 24-hour annual Give to the Max Day. Every gift made on November 14 increases our chances of winning at least one $1,000 Golden Ticket! By partnering with GiveMN, an online giving website for Minnesota nonprofits, MHAM will have 25 chances to be selected for a $1,000 Golden Ticket.  Here’s the really exciting part: At the end of Give to the Max Day, one donation from across Minnesota will be randomly selected for a $10,000 Super-sized Golden Ticket! What’s more, if we reach the top of our leaderboard, we are also eligible for a $10,000 grant.

In addition to Golden Tickets and Leaderboard awards, GiveMN is also introducing Power Hours. During five different hours, agencies that reach the top of their leaderboard at the end of the hour will receive an additional $1,000 donation. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, there are times you may want to consider donating. Power Hours are:

  • 2:00 – 2:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 p.m.
  • 6:00 – 6:59 p.m.
  • 11:00 – 11:59 p.m.

Participating is easy. On Thursday, November 14, go to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota page on www.GiveMN.org. From our donation page you can enter the amount of your donation. Follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You can also schedule your donation early if you don’t want to worry about it on the 14th. Just visit the MHAM page on GiveMN.org, enter the amount of your donation in the space provided, and then check “Make my donation count for Give to the Max Day 2013 (11/14/2013).”

Funds raised through Give to the Max Day will be used to support MHAM’s mental health advocacy and outreach programs. MHAM improves the lives of thousands of people each year by making sure they have access to mental health services and that the community has the correct information about mental illnesses. As a result, people across the state are better able to manage their overall health, remain independent, and lead a more engaged life.

Thank you for your support!

MHAM’s ‘What’s Good With You?’ blog project

By MHAM volunteer Stephen Larson

Sometimes I think we let ourselves become identified with our diagnosis simply, and certainly through no fault of our own, because this is what we know. Think back to life before recovery. Personally I did not know there was something physiologically wrong with me. I always thought life should not be so difficult, and I had God knows how many excuses for being and feeling different, alone, disconnected and just not fitting in. The bottom line was that I was damaged goods and reasons or excuses did not really matter apart from serving as more goals to overcome.

Once I had a counselor, in all seriousness, ask me why I had not killed myself yet. At the time I focused all of my anger on his audacity and his ignorance of the fact that I was special. Whatever his motives for posing such a question, the fact is that it stuck.

What kept/keeps me going despite my perceptions of my self and the world? Why care when not doing so would be so much easier?

Blaming others for my circumstances really did not make me feel better and excuses only sidetracked my focus from the real issues. I did not know life could be better. It never occurred to me that I might be normal and healthy in most regards, or that I was not at fault for what ever was keeping me down. I never considered myself mentally ill but rather not a real or whole person at all.

There was something I was not getting.

I often refer to thinking that there was a curtain in my mind and I didn’t know what was on the other side. For me my self- medicating chemical abuse was, and still can be, so horrendous no one thought to look any further. My excuses were provided by those I loved and affected the most throughout my life as I cycled through mania and depression, violence and lethargy, craving attention while fleeing and isolating from people, as well as using sex, drugs and rock & roll just to feel normal when at the same time I was clueless about who or what I actually wanted to be. But I always knew deep down things would be better someday.

And I am glad I waited. Through patience, perseverance, and most of all stubbornness I just tried doing the next right thing and tried not to get caught up in the results. I chose not to focus on happiness as a thing in the future and realized happiness is just a thought away.

And that’s what’s good with me.

I try to do the next right thing, do what I am told and trust all will be well and that I cannot fail. At first I rejected everything about my mental illness and that took some time to get over, but now instead of being consumed by a diagnosis I understand that I if follow through with my treatments and medications it becomes a rather small, though important, part of my life. This attitude generalizes to the rest of my life and allows me to be involved in my life rather than being a passive bystander.

What’s good with me today? I am able to work part time again, I volunteer for causes that are important to me, I write and I am clean and sober, though some days reluctantly. I have another chance to see life from a different point of view, a life that is now full of hope, trust and wonderful people. I once heard that if you have gratitude in your life everything is important.

So, welcome to MHAM’s ‘What’s Good With You?’ blog project!

MHAM is now requesting and accepting stories from you for our new blog project. Submissions should focus on the positive aspects of your or a significant others’ recovery from mental illness, and be up to 750 words in length. Please don’t worry about your writing abilities as assistance with writing or editing will be available.

The following writing prompts may help spark your imagination or develop your ideas:

1. Because my mental illness is managed I see the world differently. As I recover I discover_______________. (e.g. I trust people, I am eager to meet others). What is important and new in your world today?

2. Maintenance of my mental illness is very important to me. I let the people the in my life know I will not compromise on ________________________. (e.g. sleep, human contact, medications, etc…). Describe what others need to know about your recovery.

3. Considering my recovery, when I think of my future I think of_______(e.g. possibilities, wishes, hopes, desires…). Describe what your future holds.

4. Today the best things I have to offer other people include______________________. (e.g. friendship, support, companionship, understanding, help…).

Of course other ideas are welcome though we wish to stick with subjective positive experiences and insights about recovery.

Please send submissions to: stephen-larson@hotmail.com

A Review of the Guthries’ Other Desert Cities

Last night I had the opportunity to attend ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Guthrie Theater. ‘Other Desert Cities’ takes place over the course of Christmas Eve. Brooke, who has recently been hospitalized for depression, and her brother have come to stay with their parents for the holiday. The play is premised on the notion that Brooke’s brother, Henry, committed suicide after assisting a radical leftist organization with a bombing. This loss, and the story of the circumstances around it, has profoundly influenced Brooke’s life and recovery from depression, and inspired her to write a memoir.  When she returns home for Christmas, Brooke informs her family the memoir will be published in the New Yorker. This public voicing of the family secret creates chaos and sparks discussions about mental illness, the nature of silence, the nature of change, and the importance of truth.

Henry’s suicide, and the fact of his existence, has been erased from the family memory. Very few pictures of Henry can be found in the house, and it is clearly off-limits for discussion. Brooke has grown up within the silence around Henry, longing for her beloved brother but unable to discuss the experience of loss with anyone in her family.

However, Brooke’s parents have wealth and status within their community and believe her memoir will ruin their reputation. They have an interest in and benefit from maintaining silence, and the family system is dependent upon this silence. For the family system in its current iteration to continue, silence must be maintained.

Much of the play is consumed with the question of truth. What is truth? What does Brooke have to gain from speaking the truth of her experience? What purpose does it serve? Who does telling the truth harm or heal, and is it worth it? Is it possible for divergent truths to exist within a family? And do these divergent truths make it impossible to relate or love?

There was promise for deep examination of what it means to have divergent truths within a family, the stigma of mental illness and suicide, and how to maintain mental health in hostile territory, but the writing got weak towards the end. Rather than coming to a conclusion about the issues raised by suicide and mental illness, an unexpected revelation turns the play in a completely different direction.

While the first two-thirds of the play did an excellent job of depicting a family dealing with the fallout from suicide, depression, and chemical dependency, the last third seemed to negate the entire premise. A lot of thoughtful material is brought up, and then nothing is done with it. This does not mean the play is not worth seeing—it is fascinating to watch the complex family dynamics unfold. However, be aware that very little is done with this unfolding. While this play brings to light the very types of conversations people with mental illnesses might have with their families in a way that is emotionally real, it collapses on itself and refuses to play them out to their conclusion.

Reaching Out for Help

Recently, SMCPros featured the work of individuals and organizations in the community.  We had an entry posted there, but we wanted to share it here as well.

Every day of the week, I find a call for help in my inbox.  The people who write are unflinchingly honest about emotional breakdowns, job losses, and medical nightmares.  They found a form on our website or our general email address, and sent something in the hopes that there is some help on the other end.  Even though they have no idea they are writing to me, they are honest and candid to a degree that awes me.  Because I forward these emails directly to our client advocates, Anna and Tom, almost none of them ever hear from me at all.
But nonetheless, they have come to the right place.  In a system that still tends to treat people as less than, and with an illness that can make even the smallest obstacle too much to handle, they have run into a group of people who are dedicated to understanding their needs and helping them find their way.  I work for a small non-profit, Mental Health Association of Minnesota.  For over 70 years, we have helped people with mental illness be heard.

We don’t focus on what we think is important, we ask them what their goals are.  For one client, it was making copies of correspondence without feeling like the hospital staff were looking over her shoulder.  For Amanda, it was just sorting through the paperwork that meant the difference between a stable home and living on the street.  For Kevin, it was trusting group home staff enough to tell them about his nutritional goals.  It all matters because the person behind it matters.

Believing that we’re important and that we can take a concrete step towards recovery is absolutely necessary.  Time becomes a real enemy when I feel depressed or anxious.  I lose my sense of what things are like without that cloud hanging over me, much the same way that you might forget how good a full, deep breath feels after a long bout of the flu.  Without hope and help, everything is too much, and every set back feels like the end of the world.

More than a decade ago, I was a patient at Abbot Northwestern, hospitalized a handful of times for suicidal behavior and thoughts.  I was not responding well to medication, and every change in my prescription added another 15 or 20 pounds to my frame, until I could barely recognize myself in the mirror.  In a matter of months, I had gone from zero involvement in the system to a head-first dive.  It was frightening and lonely, full of people who didn’t believe me or listen to what I thought might help.  I was on a unit with all kids, but many went days or even entire stays without seeing family.

I got daily visits from family.  There were cards from my friends waiting for me when I got home.  My internship supervisor came to the unit to make up for a lunch we were supposed to have.  She even arranged a get-well call from her boss’s boss, a guy named Paul Wellstone.  And from working in his office, I knew that it took phone calls all the way up the chain of command, and a scheduling effort.  Far from taking away from the impact, it doubled it.  You see, the point is that it’s not about one person who cares, it’s about entire families, communities, workplaces that do.

Mental illness is often chronic.  It can be extremely painful and damaging.  It is also true that people recover, leading wonderful and meaningful lives.  They do so every day, but they almost never do it without support. MHAM takes phone calls and emails from anyone who is living in Minnesota or is concerned about a Minnesota resident who is having a hard time navigating the mental health system.  We connect people with needed services, teach skills for self-advocacy and wellness, helping them live into their recovery.

I wanted to share this story with you so that you know two things.  First.  If you have a mental illness, and you don’t know where to turn, there is help. If it’s 2 AM when you’re reading this, and you’re in crisis, please call 800-273-TALK. It’s a different organization, but they are ready to connect with you, and believe me that it is worth it.  But the next morning, I hope you email us at info@mentalhealthmn.org, or give us a call at 651-493-6634/800-862-1799.

Second.  Whether or not you are living with a mental illness, do you agree with me that recovery shouldn’t be luck? There are plenty of ways for you to help.  Drop us a line to find out more about volunteer opportunities, how to contact your legislators about life changing community mental health services, or our wellness education program. And yes, consider a donation.  Our services may not be the easiest to fund in today’s economy, but that voice of hope is worth something.  Personally, I think it’s worth quite a lot.

Ben Ashley-Wurtmann

Policy and Outreach Associate

Give to the Max and Improve Lives

Don’t forget! Tomorrow, November 15 is Give to the Max Day through GiveMN.org!

The MHAM Board of Directors will match all donations given to MHAM through GiveMN up to $10,000! Your donation will go further and you will be helping people with mental illnesses remain healthy and independent. Go to givemn.org/story/Mental-Health-Association-of-Minnesota right now to schedule a donation for November 15, or join us on Give to the Max Day to help us reach our $25,000 goal.

MHAM is behind in its fundraising goals for 2012. While we receive some corporate and foundation money, we are far more reliant on individual donations to provide our services throughout the state. Remember – with our generous Board match, your gift of $10 becomes $20, a gift of $25 becomes $50, and a gift of $100 becomes $200. Please join us on November 15 and improve the lives of people living with mental illnesses.

MHAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We meet all standards of the Charities Review Council. We do not sell or share our donor lists.

November 15 is Give to the Max Day!


November 15 is coming up! It’s Give to the Max Day through GiveMN.org. MHAM is pleased to announce that our Board of Directors is offering a very generous $10,000 match for all donations made to MHAM through GiveMN.org on November 15.

MHAM qualifies for additional opportunities to raise even more money:
• Every hour, one donor will be selected at random to receive a Golden Ticket and $1,000 will be added to their donation.
• At the end of the day, one donor will be selected at random to receive a Supersized Golden Ticket, and $10,000 will be added to their donation.
• MHAM is registered for the mid-sized nonprofit leaderboard for total dollars raised – $12,500 will be awarded to 1st place, $5,000 to 2nd place, and $2,500 to 3rd place. In addition, $1,000 will be awarded to the nonprofits that place 4th through 10th on the board.

Giving on Give to the Max Day is easy! Go to givemn.org/story/Mental-Health-Association-of-Minnesota. Look for the box on the top right side of our page. Enter a dollar amount and hit the Donate button.

Not going to be around on November 15? You can also schedule your donation. Go to givemn.org/story/Mental-Health-Association-of-Minnesota and click the link to “schedule one for Give to the Max Day 2012.” Your donation will be processed on November 15 and count toward our match. All scheduled donations will be processed in the first hour and will be included in the random drawing for a Golden Ticket that hour.

MHAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We meet all standards of the Charities Review Council. We do not sell or share our donor lists.

Back to Beta: A Concert to Benefit MHAM

We are very excited to announce that Beta Theta Pi at the University of Minnesota will be hosting a concert to raise funds for MHAM!

Back to Beta will be held on Friday, September 14, 2012, from 6:30 until 10:00 p.m. at Beta Theta Pi, 1625 University Ave SE, Minneapolis. The concert is open to the public and features The Tasty Tones with special guests Hustle Rose and Gin and Phonic. Cover charge is $5.

Take a look at their Facebook invitation. Please share this information with your friends. All are welcome.

MHAM extends a huge THANK YOU to the guys of Beta Theta Pi!

19th Annual Tom Murphy Memorial Golf Tournament

With the weather cooling down a little, it’s time to get ready for the 19th Annual Tom Murphy Memorial Golf Tournament.   Featuring special events and a silent auction. Scramble format.

All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Mental Health Association of Minnesota (MHAM). MHAM is a 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of MHAM is to enhance mental health, promote individual empowerment, and increase access to treatment and services for people wit mental illnesses. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

 

September 22nd

 11 am – 1 pm Tee Times
6 – 7 pm Social Hour
7 pm Dinner and Prizes

 

Golf Tournament

Brookview Golf Course
200 Brookview Parkway
Golden Valley, MN 55426
763-512-2305

 

Dinner

Doubletree Hotel
1500 Park Place Blvd.
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
952-542-8600 
 
 

Registration

Golf and Dinner: $100 ($42 tax deductible)
Dinner Only: $30 ($7 tax deductible)
Tournament Sponsorship: $50
 
 
 
 
 

Download a registration form and return with a check (payable to Mental Health Association of Minnesota) to Tim Murphy, 5354 Parkdale Drive, Suite 104, Minneapolis, MN 55416. Please reserve by September 11!

For more information, contact Tim Murphy at TMurphyLtd@aol.com or 952-591-1226 or 612-242-3237.