Tag Archives: self advocacy

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.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

Seeing a health professional for any type of health condition can be daunting. Being prepared before an appointment can alleviate some of that pre-appointment angst and can create better outcomes after the visit. Below are a few possible questions that may be asked from your health professional and questions that you may want to ask during that appointment. Having some of these written down before your appointment may be helpful.

The following are some questions that may be asked by the health professional you are seeing:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing or have experienced, frequency and intensity, and how has this affected your daily life/routines?
  • Is there a past history of mental health issues?
  • Any family history of mental health issues?
  • Any substance abuse – past and present?
  • What prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary and herbal remedies, and vitamins or minerals are you taking?

You may want to ask your health provider about the recommended course of treatment and what options are available to treat your health condition, along with expectations of each.

If you are prescribed a medication, you may want to ask:

  • What the medication is for and how is it going to help you?
  • How and when should you take it and how much should you take?
  • How long will you be on this medication?
  • What should you do if you miss a dose?
  • Will it interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications, dietary or herbal remedies, vitamins or minerals?
  • Should it be taken with food? What food or drinks should you avoid while taking this medication?
  • What are the side effects of this medication and what should you do if you experience them?
  • Who should you contact if you have any problems or questions about the medication(s)?

For more information on seeking help, visit Get Help, Get Well on the MHAM website.

 

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.

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

Know Your Medications

From most recent estimates, one in two Americans used at least one prescription medication in the past month and one in five Americans used 3 or more prescriptions in the past month. While prescription use is increasing, so are adverse drug events (ADE). Approximately 4.5 million ambulatory visits related to ADEs occur each year. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that at least 1.5 million preventable adverse drug events occur within the healthcare system each year. All medications have inherent risks, but both healthcare providers and consumers can often manage or reduce many ADEs from occurring. So what can you do?

The following questions from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can help you talk with your healthcare team so that you can gain a better understanding of your medications and to safely use them. You may want to ask your healthcare professional…

> What are the brand and generic names of the medicine? Can I use a generic form?
> What is the medicine for and what effect should I expect? Does this drug replace any other medicine I have been using?
> How and when will I use it, what amount will I use, and for how long? What do I do if I miss a dose?
> Should I avoid any other medicines, (prescription or over-the-counter), dietary supplements, drinks, foods or activities while using this drug?
> When should I notice a difference or improvement? When should I report back to my healthcare team? Will I need to have any testing to monitor this drug’s effects?
> Can this medicine be used safely with all my other medications and therapies? Could there be interactions?
> What are the possible side effects? What do I do if a side effect occurs?
> What other medicines or therapies could be used to treat this condition? How do the risks and benefits compare?
> How and where do I store this medicine?
> Where and how can I get written information about this medicine? What other sources of information can I use to make my decision?

For other information and resources, check out the following:
www.consumermedsafety.org
www.fda.gov
www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/steps-to-wellness (Downloadable Medication Form)

The Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee Wants to Hear from You!

When it comes to services for people with disabilities, how well do you think current public policies and practices in Minnesota meet your needs? What’s working for you? What isn’t? These are all questions the Minnesota Olmstead Committee would like to ask.

By October 2012, this committee must develop goals, recommendations, and a timeline that will become Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. This Plan will be submitted to the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin to implement recommended changes in 2013.

You can help shape this plan by going to the Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee’s website. The committee wants to hear from individuals living with disabilities, their families, service providers, and concerned community members.

The site is still being developed, but check back often for more information about the Olmstead Decision and ways that you can be a part of the conversation.

Hennepin County Mental Health Advisory Council (HCMHAC) 101

by Kim Lutes, MHAM volunteer

The Hennepin County Mental Health Advisory Council will meet on Thursday, March 15, 2012, at the Hosmer Library on 36th and 3rd avenue. This Thursday’s meeting is a special one because it is the first meeting of our 2012-2013 session. The council will welcome newly appointed members.  The formal meeting begins at 2:00, but members are encouraged to arrive at 1:30 for a brief gathering in honor of the new members. Since Thursday’s meeting marks the beginning of the 2012-2013 session, much of our time will focus on orienting our new members to the council– sort of like “Advisory Council 101”.  We hope this will also be a helpful review for returning council members.  In addition, Commissioner Jan Callison is scheduled to address the council. I look forward to a full meeting and a productive year.  Stay tuned for monthly updates on this blog.

Volunteers Sought for Hennepin County Citizen Advisory Boards

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants from the community to fill positions on seven citizen advisory boards, including the Adult Mental Health Advisory Council. This 32 member council advises the County Board on adult mental health issues within Hennepin County and monitors, studies, and comments on mental health issues at the federal, state, and local levels. Members serve three-year terms and meet monthly on the third Thursday from 2:00 until 4:30 p.m. The council meets at the Hennepin County Hosmer Library in Minneapolis. located at 347 East 36th Street. Volunteers must be a resident of Hennepin County to be eligible to serve on the council.

For more information or to apply for this volunteer position, please visit the Hennepin County website.

Applications will be taken through Friday, January 7, 2011.

Celebrating Recovery Event – Tuesday, October 5

Just a reminder that in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week, MHAM is hosting the Celebrating Recovery education event on Tuesday, October 5 at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m. We would love to see you there! If you register before October 5, admission is $15. At the door admission is $20. Your admission includes presentations, a Wellness Fair, a Steps To Wellness self-care kit, and lunch.

This will be a great event for individuals living with mental illnesses, their family members and friends, and mental health providers. Michael Trangle, MD will speak about holistic care and staying healthy and Minnesota 10 x 10 and the DIAMOND program. Kim Lutes will share her experiences with the mental health system and the importance of self-advocacy. Brain Doran will discuss ways in which family members and friends can support a loved one who is living with a mental illness. Brett Dumke will provide an overview of the brand new Steps to Wellness self-care kits. Ed Eide will give examples of how individuals can share their stories to influence public policy.

The Steps to Wellness kits have been developed with support from an educational grant from Lilly USA, LLC, a charitable contribution from Janssen, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc., a grant from Park Nicollet Foundation Healthy Community, and a grant from Pfizer Healthcare. The kits contain tools to help individuals manage their health and learn skills to advocate for themselves when working with medical professionals and social service providers. After the event, the kits will be available for order from the MHAM website.

Tickets to this event are still available. Please see the Celebrating Recovery page on our website to register online. Scholarships are available. To arrange for a scholarship, please contact Ed Eide at 612-843-4868, ext. 1 or edeide at mentalhealthmn.org.

Celebrating Recovery and Proof

We have two upcoming events to announce!

The first is MHAM’s education event Celebrating Recovery on October 5, 2010. This education event in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness week will provide you with information about self-care and advocacy and offer tips on how you can become a partner in your own care. We are also very excited to unveil our brand new Steps to Wellness kits. All attendees will receive a free kit. Lunch will be served and is included in the registration fee. Cost is $15 per person in advance, $20 per person at the door, and $40 to exhibit at the Wellness Fair (includes admission to the event and lunch). Location: Ramada Plaza Hotel, 1330 Industrial Boulevard NE, Minneapolis, MN.Click on the link for more information and to register online.

The second event is Proof by David Auburn, produced by the Phoenix Theater Project. After the death of her father, Catherine is left to pull together her own life; a life that was set aside to care for her ailing father, a famous mathematician. She must deal with his legacy; hundreds of notebooks that most likely hold the ramblings of a man slowly losing his genius, but may reveal the last great work of a brilliant mind.  Now she is forced to face her own life and can no longer avoid her possible inheritance; genius or insanity. Proof will be playing weekends beginning Friday, September 10 and running through Saturday, September 25 at the People Center’s Theater, 425 20th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Tickets are $16. MHAM is working closely with Phoenix Theater Project to offer feedback on the portrayal of family relationships where a mental illness is involved, and we will be participating in a talk back session after the show on Sunday, September 12. Visit Phoenix Theater Project for more information on this Pulitzer Prize-winning play or to purchase tickets.