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ReachOut Launches Speakers Bureau!

by RO_Meredith Mental Health

Speakers BureauMoved by requests from schools and communities looking for youth to discuss mental health topics and break down the stigma around these issues, we're thrilled to announce the launch of the ReachOut Speakers Bureau*! Sponsored by the Each Mind Matters mini-grant initiative, ReachOut has trained a selection of youth volunteers passionate about mental health advocacy in California.

Available for speaking engagements for both youth and youth advocates, members of our speakers bureau have already delivered compelling presentations for audiences at the San Mateo Youth Conference and the 7th International Together Against Stigma conference in San Francisco.

If you have an upcoming school or community event that could use a youth voice keyed into the challenges of growing up today, check out the brief profiles of our speakers below and contact Michael Young, Youth Programs Manager to coordinate an appearance. 

Daniel

Daniel Robert Caldera Jr. is a research assistant and student at Pitzer College, part of the Claremont Consortium, studying Linguistics & Cognitive Science and expresses his lived experience with mental health challenges through writing and community engagement.

Mackenzie

Mackenzie Ellsworth is a jewelry designer and student at University of San Francisco studying Entrepreneurship and Innovation/Environmental Studies, and expresses her lived experience with depression through writing and design.

Emily 

Emily Pham is currently an undergraduate student attending San Francisco State University studying Psychology and Counseling. Emily aspires to become a school counselor and voice-over artist in the future. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, singing, dancing, exercising, voice acting and writing.

Estephani

Estephani Alanis is a Mental Health Advocate in Orange County California. Estephani is a Southern California Team Lead for Each Mind Matters Change Agents and is currently studying Behavioral Science at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA. She expresses efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination through Crisis Intervention Traning for Law Enforcement.

Kaila

Kaila Tang is a passionate advocate for cultural-competency and ethnic minority mental health who has struggled with major depression and other related stressors that have resulted in her interest in counseling and trauma work with women of color. Spreading awareness in regards to equal rights and treatment for under-represented and under-served populations has become very important to her.

Haley

Haley Adams is high school student in Redwood, CA who volunteers as a ReachOutHere Peer Supporter. She is passionate about helping her peers get through tough times and combatting the stigma surrounding mental health.

Jessica

Jessica Van Tuinen is a student at Modesto Junior College and works at Juvenile Justice where she oversees the youth leadership program, Youth In Mind, and mentors young adults who have recently been released from Juvenile Hall. As well, she is a CAYEN (California Youth Empowerment Network) board member. Her personal experience with anxiety has inspired her to help as many young people as she can. 

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*This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit: calmhsa.org

Overcoming Stigma and Labels on the Road to Recovery

by RO_Meredith Health, Mental Health

RecoveryThe path to recovery isn't always easy, but it is possible. In today's blog, forum member Ray shares the lessons learned on his own journey from addict to father. 

My name is Ray and, like many others in the world, I suffered from substance abuse. Substance abuse kills about 200,000 people per YEAR and the numbers are just rising! The issue isn't helped by the fact that drugs are sometimes idolized by our favorite singers, music videos, friends, family and what have you. We're made to believe it's cool or it'll make us fit in with no consequences, but  the truth is drugs can also take your life off course. Believe me, I've experienced it firsthand – and also found my way back through recovery! It wasn't easy with the label and stigma attached to addicts, but I've found that through self-compassion and new ambitions, I've been able to come through this struggle even stronger than I was before.

When I was younger, my family would verbally abuse me and tell me how worthless I was and how I wouldn't grow up to be anything. Coming from my own parents, this created deep-seated insecurity and depression. Then one day, my brother's friend came a long and made it seem like drugs were my pathway to happiness. Plus, I'd seen rappers and actors I idolized use drugs, so I thought, "Hey, if people like that can do it, why can't I?" It doesn't mean I'm a bum on the street, or that I'd do anything to get high. And at first I was right but the stronger my addiction got, the more I knew I was becoming what I was most afraid of and that was "the addict." It took hitting rock bottom before I could seek and accept help, but I'm now three years clean. I have a sponsor, attend meetings and have also sought help for my depression. I've come a long way from where I was, but I could still be described as a recovering addict.

Many people have their own idea of what an addict is. In some people's minds, an addict is a thief, heartless, dirty, crazy, or bad person and in so many cases that is not true. We are people like everyone else and just because we made a bad choice doesn't meant we're bad people. We're only human and doesn't every human make mistakes? While hooked on a drug, we may become someone we're not and our identity may slowly begin to vanish, but that doesn't mean we can't find our way back after recovery. We all are much stronger then what any of us gives ourselves credit for!

If you've been through recovery, it may feel like the label "addict" will follow you, but you don't have to follow that label By that I mean: follow the label you believe you are! For example, if you believe you're a singer then sing away! Let the world hear that voice! Don't ever let anyone hold you back, especially your past!  For me that means embracing the role of father to my daughter.

The strongest people  in my eyes are the ones who have been to the deepest parts of hell in their life, climbed out and became everything everyone told them they wouldn't be! And sometimes it's easier said then done but nothing is impossible! And the only label that matters is the one you give yourself! Never forget that!

ReachOut TXT: Kicking Stigma and Keeping Names Confidential

by RO_Meredith Mental Health

 “I love this service. It's helped me in so many times. Thank you, again!" 

After providing over a year of service, with over 936 California participants and 4,078 national participants, the ReachOut TXT* one-way and two-way programs are coming to a close. Although we are sad to see the program halted, as we know many of you are, we feel very fortunate to have been one of the first programs to provide mental health peer support via text.

Since launching ReachOut TXT in October 2013, ReachOut trained a total of 34 enthusiastic text supporters to provide empathetic support and targeted resources to users needing encouragement. The program was met with lots of praise from volunteers and users alike, with comments from participants such as, “You have made my night. I am gonna go eat dinner now yay! You have helped me so much!” and “I just want to Say thank you for the support and an open ear.”

We are grateful for the initial investment of funds for ReachOut TXT distributed by the California Mental Health Services Authority from funding provided by counties. Unfortunately, the grant will come to a close as of December 31, 2014, and as a result ReachOut TXT will end service at that time.  If you find this disappointing – we hear you! Our plan is to find alternative grant funding to re-launch the program in the next year and are hopeful that the success seen by the program thus far will be compelling.

In the meantime, if you're going through a tough time, you can always check out the ReachOutHere Forums where peer supporters are available to provide kind words and useful information. Also, you can connect with counselors over text through the Your Life Your Voice crisis line everyday from 4 p.m.-10 p.m. (PT) by texting "VOICE" to 20121."

We know from our users that text has been a really powerful medium of expression and support seeking, and will keep their words on the value of this service in mind as we look to the future of our programming: “If I don't get a chance to talk to you again, please remember me even just a little. You made an impact on my life."


 

*This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit: calmhsa.org

 

Spotlight on ‘100 Reasons to Recover’

by RO_Meredith Mental Health

At ReachOut , we are all about communities that keep it positive while also keeping it real. 100 Reasons to Recover, a tumblr dedicated to "bringing hope to those in recovery," does just that by posting daily reasons (there are now way more than 100!) to stick with recovery that come from the people who know best -- because they've been there.

Like the ReachOutHere Forums, the contributors to 100 Reasons to Recover deal with a wide range of issues, including eating disorders, self harm and anxiety. The common thread between them is their willingness to get through tough times and encourage others to do the same.

We spoke to Elisabeth, the 23 year-old creator of the blog, to find out more about how she got started and what she's learned form running a tumblr dedicated to recovery. Give it a read and feel free to post your reasons to recover in the ReachOut Forums!

ReachOut: What inspired you to start your tumblr?

100 Reasons To Recover: I had a few friends who were struggling, and they were on Tumblr reblogging things. The things they were reblogging were not the most positive items, but instead promoted reasons to continue engaging in harmful behaviors. This frustrated me. What my friends needed was positivity, but instead they were surrounded by these negative blogs. I conducted a search to see if there were, in fact, any sites promoting reasons for recovery, and there weren't any active sites. My frustration turned into anger. There were all of these people struggling, in need of encouragement, and yet nothing existed. Pro-ana and pro self-harm blogs were everywhere, but the opposite was so difficult to find. That's when I thought, 'Hey, I can create this. My friends do have reasons for their recovery, I have photoshop, I have the internet. I have the means to do this.' I started the blog that afternoon, with input from my friends, not thinking it would go anywhere. Clearly the message resonated though. A month later, we had 1,000 followers and three years later, we now have a community of over 13,000 followers. All of our reasons to recover are submitted by those who are in recovery, and it is the greatest honor for people to trust us with their stories.

ReachOut: Do you have any tips for someone who is struggling with recovery? 

100 Reasons to Recover: Every Sunday, a member of our staff posts an encouraging message. Those can be found by visiting the Staff Says section of our page.  We also collect recovery advice from our followers, through our Surveys. The most popular advice is that relapse will happen and is a part of recovery, that slipping up does not mean you are a failure. Take things a day at a time. Talk to people about what you are feeling - don't keep it inside. It has to be something you want to do for you. We encourage people to not go it alone, and to seek professional help if things are not getting better. Self love and self care is so important. Treat yourself kindly and do things for yourself. Recovery takes time and it is a process. It won't happen all at once, but it will be worth it in the end.

ReachOut: Can you describe your happy place (real or fictional)?

100 Resons to Recover: My happy place is the beach on a bright, sunny day. The sky is clear blue, the waves are rolling in nice and gentle. There is a slight breeze. There aren't a lot of people on the beach with me. The sea gulls are flying around. I've got my favorite book with me. My best friends are there too, a few yards away. We've got lots of food to eat and many things to do. Boogie boards, fishing poles; we are ready for a good time.

Thanks for reading and remember to post your reasons to recover in the forums!

Community Corner: A dose of positivity

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Mental Health, Moods

The Power of Positvity

I am continually amazed by the power of positivity and how our community members manage to hold onto it in the face of adversity. Here are 3 recent quotes from ReachOutHere forum members who have been through tough times, from drug addiction to depression, and chosen to share their experiences and help others through.

Take 2 minutes to join the ReachOutHere forums today and either get the support support you deserve, or make the tough times count by giving support to others who need it.

"Hey everyone!  I'm still fairly new to reachout and as I read different topics in the forums it really does sadden my heart to see how much a lot of people are really hurting inside, it also gets me angry to see in some people's stories they describe how people tease, bully or make them feel like a "freak" because they are going through whatever they're going through. Just remember no matter what your going through no matter what anyone tells u or says YOU are a fantastic individual no matter if you are gay, straight, bi, male or female, young or old, or race. Nothing is impossible if you dream it you can do it! Never let anyone tell you that you cant! Also never let anyone belittle any of your problems anything that affects you mentally, emotionally or physically needs to be addressed immediately no matter how big or small a problem may be. Nothing is worth jeopardizing you're happiness! Try and stay focused everyone I know it can be hard but I know you guys can do it! You'll have your good and bad days like we all do. What separates us from others is the ones that gave up and the ones that fell but got right back up =) keep showing the world you're smile! I guarantee you eventually you'll give the world no choice but to smile back" (RicanSurvivor) 

"New to the scene and full of optomism. Hey ladies and gents my name is Joshua. I just joined this site for multiple reasons: 1) Sometimes I feel like no one understands me and I am sure there are others who feel the same way; I am here to open up and listen to anyone who needs it and I hope that can be reciprocated, 2) Sometimes it is a good thing to just vent your feelings without worry of offending someone or being judged by others, and 3) I finally want to be able to let my guard down with other people who may come into my life so that I can once again be the person that I know I am To everyone on this site, if you ever have a problem that you need help on or need someone to listen to, I am here. I will try to help everyone that I can because I believe the only way we can help ourselves, is to help everyone else first!" (collinsje09)

"One of the things I have learned from having depression is that time is one of the best healers. If today is the worst day of your life, then you can be proud of yourself at the end of the day for getting through it.  And I don't think anything is wrong with you at all! The road to getting better is bumpy at times; some days and weeks will be better, and some worse. It takes time to learn how to deal with depression, but I promise, it will pay off. I know you can do this."  (Dragonrider)

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