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About Me

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon Image via Wikipedia

I’m a 30 something who has been in the mental health system off and on since I was a kid.  I am not a professional, but am a Consumer who has seen a lot and wants to make a difference for others in the mental health system who may not have the confidence to speak for themselves.

I’m also an abuse survivor, and my present mental health diagnosis include,  ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, and personality Disorder.  To aid in day-to-day life, I also use a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) for symptom control of my mental health issues.

As a teen, I was in multiple shelters, group homes, short-term psychiatric units and a couple of state hospitals.  As an adult, I’ve been in and out of short-term psych units, but not with the frequency I was as a teen.  At this point, its been over 4 years since my last admission.  My last hospitalization was because my medication was increased in dosage by my doctor, combined with eating a lot of grapefruit, the combination caused bad reaction that sent me into some sort of manic phase because of a build up of excess serotonin in my system.  I later found out that this was more serious than I had realized, and treatment was vitally  important.  Normally I’ve never had a problem with becoming manic so it was quite the experience.

In recent years I have literally been able to watch my local mental health system evolve before my eyes. I have seen merges that went wrong, divisions that didn’t work and resulted in a re-merging, and more recently I’m seeing very well-defined indications that the medical model which has had a very tight grip on my local area is starting to lose its grip and be replaced with a recovery oriented approach where folks like myself are not only asked what we want from treatment, but encouraged to offer our comments which are then used to develop an individualized plan to help us grow and reach beyond our diagnosis to where we have a chance to thrive and work towards our goals for recovery.  It is because of the changes I have witnessed and often experienced firsthand with my local mental health system that I want to see what I can do to help improve the overall mental health system.  I don’t always agree with what I see happening, but when I’m able to I have spoken up and offered my concerns or ideas on ways that might be better than what is being proposed.  In some ways I guess it could be possible to label me a “closet activist”  I started out feeling like I wasn’t able to take a stand because who would listen to me?  and now I’m peeking out of the closet society put me into and finding that there are ways I can be heard and there are also folks who want to hear what I have to say.  I’ve never picketed anyone or anything, but I have been involved with promoting legislation such as a bill that was passed that made Psychiatric Advanced Directive recognized in Pennsylvania as a legal and binding document.  In more recent times I helped push to get the bill passed to increase the Personal Needs Allowance for folks on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who also live in personal care homes. This blog is something I use to try to gather information for folks that may not have the time to do the digging I am able to for information, and while it may not be an end all last stop for info, it is my hope that this blog helps to raise awareness about mental heal issues in general and helps others who feel like they want to find out what is happening in the mental health community across Pennsylvania.

From November 2010 to present, I am serving as the secretary on a newly formed Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) setup to advise Beacon Light Behavioral Health with regards to the needs and concerns of Consumers in addition to assuring that Beacon Light i doing what they say they will do in their pursuit of a recovery oriented method of treatment.  I have given comments on our mission statement, a grant proposal, and  am starting to get involved with a sub-committee to design a newsletter to let folks know what CAB is doing.

I am not a professional, nor do I make any claim to be a professional.  I am simply an individual who has seen many aspects of the mental health system and is on a personal journey of recovery.  I pretty much relay info I find, and the times I write about a given topic from a personal perspective, it is meant as an opinion and not a final answer.

At any rate, Thank you for taking time to get to know me a bit by reading about me and why I do what I do.

Jenn Campbell
PAMHI Blogger

16 Responses

  1. Thank you for making a difference Jenn.

  2. Your blog is so inspiring and helpful. Thank you!

  3. This was all so wonderful. My brother, who is such a determined and helpful man, is qualified for CPS training and really want to enroll in a course! The only issue: He cannot seem to find a organization that offers them! Anyway, he’s located in Philadelphia, and was told that they are no longer accepting applications for training at this time. Poor guy. Any ideas? Thanx guys! You all rule!

    • Joy,
      Is there a large agency in Philly that has residential programs or other in house programs that involved a lot of people/traffic on a daily basis? Sometimes these agencies have their own CPS trainings for their own agency. It is not the same as
      the state certified CPS program but until he can get into such a program it could
      offer experience. Unfortunately since the budget cuts a lot of services have faced cut backs.
      Mark Flamand

  4. Jenn,
    Something else is occurring, at least in our county – York – which I wonder if it is occurring elsewhere. Another model is is being promoted alongside of the recovery model, the wellness model. The main difference is that the wellness model focuses on a person’s strengths/gifts while the recovery model comes out of a person’s diagnosis. Both have the same goals but the foundations are different.
    Just musing.

    Mark Flamand

    • Mark F.,
      I think there might have been a mandate at the state level to look ate a whole health approach, so many counties are beginning to adopt whole health approaches from what I’ve heard, but everything I know is pretty sketchy so I hate to say a lot, just that an attempt seems to be being made at treating folks in the mental health system as a whole person which includes physical and mental health …. it’s an odd trend really in the sense that usually when there is a shift of this kind it gets talked about a lot, but I’m only catching rumors and nothing I feel comfortable posting on here since I don’t know how strong the foundation of those rumors are, which is something I’m looking into. So the wellness component you are talking about might be another name for the whole health approach. I could be wrong though, but as I said it’s something I’ve been looking into just with minimal success.

  5. I’ve really enjoyed your blog for a while and just wanted to thank you.

  6. Thank you for your information. I’m a parent to four wonderful children and my oldest who is 8 has been threw abuse and told he has so many mental health disorders mood disorder nos,odd,ptsd,and the list goes on. What I have learned its very hard to get help for a child. There isn’t much services out there at all. And to many turned there back because abuse was unfounded with children and youth so couldn’t get that help he needed. I’m fighting my battle. And he is getting worse. Things need to change. Keep up your good work. Take care.

    • My heart goes out to you, your Son and you other family members. I know your Son has a tough road ahead of him, but I also know that for me, when I was a kid and being labeled with various mental illnesses, the one thing that as I look back that made the biggest impact on me, was my Mom. I know she didn’t always know what to do with me, and didn’t always understand what things were like for me, but the thing she did that was huge to me, was that she stuck by me through thick and thin. Even during times when I was pushing away everyone around me, my Mom managed to let me know she was there for me and that she wasn’t giving up. As an adult, my relationship with my Mom is quite strong and she is still a huge support in my life. Things seemed to get worse before they got better for me as well, but if it wasn’t for those seemingly impossible times in my life, I probably wouldn’t be maintaining this blog, because my life and the struggles I’ve had are a huge driving force behind my efforts here.

  7. Great resource! I agree, PA lags behind in evidence based services and care, like the recovery model. I worked in Alexandria, VA and they began using the recovery model back in 1985. With your advocacy, the pace of evolution for the mental health system will ruch to catch up. Thanks for your knowledge, resources and compassion.

  8. Came upon this very nice web page and appreciate your care and sharing information. My daughter has mental illness although she says she does not. The big problem for me is she wanders away and walks for miles and miles until she collapses. and i don’t know how to change it. After reading what you wrote maybe she will be alright if she had a friend like a dog with her. I’m at a loss as what to do for her.

    • The organization I got my Service dog through is New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc. they have a website located at http://newhopedogs.org

      They place dogs with kids and adults and have trained dogs for Autism, Hearing, and physical disabilities, so they might be a good starting point for finding out what might be able to be done to help your daughter. I know for me, Tippy has made a world of difference for me when it comes to managing my various mental health issues. For me having panic attacks, it pretty much got to a point to where I had to carry extra medication with me, and like a lot of folks, I hate takng meds, but do take them because I know what I’m like without them, but getting Tippy has helped me decrease the amount of medication I take and I don’t have to carry extra meds with me like I use to. I can also say that I almost enjoy shopping now, unless the stores are packed then it gets tough, but when things are quietre I am able to shop for food and things I need with less of a problem then I had before.

      I also find that having a Service Dog has helped me with socialization which has always been a huge struggle for me, while that isn’t something that the ADA would cover, it is a good side-effect of sorts when it comes to using a Service Dog to manage my mental illness.

  9. Hi Jenca,
    I work for MHA in York/Adams counties. Two thumbs up for your work on this website. Keep up the good work, it is much needed.

    • Thank you for the encouragement, sometimes I wonder if I’m posting to myself, so it’s always good to hear someone out there is benefiting from my efforts. I have a friend who works with MHA in Alleghany County and I post items for her from time to time. If you have anything like a special project or something that you want passed along to my readers, I would be glad to help out when I can.

  10. hi

    this is good stuff — best wishes to you — always nice to meet others out there with mental health issues … my names dave and i have schitzophrenia ___ busy working with friends to try and get this of the ground http://www.mmmeta.com/


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