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PEERS pulse

Nothing about us, without us.

A Quarterly Newsletter

Executive Director’s Annual Report Fiscal Year 2009 - 2010 In this year’s annual report, I would like to begin on a personal note, taking the opportunity to thank PEERS Board of Directors, staff, and the behavioral health care community for the outpouring of support and prayers during the most traumatic experience in my husband’s and my lives. Jesse and I will always grieve our daughter Lela’s loss. Our life and death experience this last year reinforced the importance of support and how crucial it is in one’s mental health and wellness. In addition, I strongly feel that supportive, caring and empathetic people are not only important but a key in helping our communities get through the hard times. Since I brought up support, I want to highlight the staff at PEERS for the excellent job they continue to do on a daily basis. Our team worked so hard that we have not paused to reflect on the remarkable accomplishments this last year. Without a doubt, fiscal year 2009-2010 was our most successful since being incorporated. Our biggest accomplishment was being awarded the Alameda County Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Campaign (now the Alameda County Social Inclusion Campaign) funded by Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (BHCS). I remember just two years ago organizing our advocacy around the County’s Mental Health Services Act Prevention and Early Intervention town hall meetings, wearing our yellow Pool Of Consumer Champions (POCC) T-shirts and showing up in huge numbers to have our input be heard. Our goals: to stress the importance of reducing mental health stigma and discrimination and to create a barrier-free community, where all individuals are included and treated as equals with dignity, compassion, and mutual respect. The advocacy was a success. BHCS released the Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Campaign Request For Proposal in December of 2009. I am sure it will not surprise anyone when I say that one of the most intense and stressful times last year was writing the proposal. But again, teamwork was the cornerstone of our effort. We were able to complete and

PEERSpulse, Summer 2010

Summer 2010

submit the proposal a day in advance of the due date. Once funding began, we started the hiring process for a Program Manager. In June we hired Lisa Smusz. Lisa, also a person with lived experience of mental health challenges and a family member, has been PEERS’ media consultant for the last six years. She joined us with over eight years of experience as a project manager, managing large-scale projects in the mental health, non-profit, and education sectors across the Bay Area. We are very excited to have her on our team. Our 2009-2010 highlights were not just around the Social Inclusion Campaign. Thanks to dedication and hard work of everyone, the following are some additional accomplishments from last year: • One Day Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) monthly workshops totaled to 345 unduplicated attendees, thus exceeding our year-end goal of 300. • Total weekly participant contacts for all WRAP groups were 2,349. • We increased the professional growth of two of our Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) facilitators to Advance Level WRAP Trainers, ensuring PEERS’ ability to certify WRAP Facilitators in compliance with the Copeland Center’s requirements. • We piloted a Tobacco Information Program and our facilitators, all POCC members, organized and facilitated 13 Tobacco Information Presentations to over 128 individuals. Some of the sites we presented to were Latino Best Now, Casa de la Vida, Asian Community Mental Health, ACNMHC Berkeley Dropin Center, the Creative Living Center, Bonita House, and Villa Fairmont. • We coordinated and awarded scholarships to over 60 POCC members to attend conferences like the National Alternatives Conference, the California Mental health Advocacy Conference, and the California Network of Mental Health Clients Bay Area regional conference.

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Our staff presented workshops on Ethnic Realities- the intersection of stigma, prejudice, race and culture; Organizing Alameda County’s POCC to Combat Stigma and Discrimination; Promoting Social Inclusion and Challenging Stigma and Discrimination in Employment; and Wellness and Recovery at Work. • Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we coordinated a group of members from the POCC to take part in and travel to Sacramento on May 26 for Disability Capital Action Day. • We have continued our efforts locally and statewide on increasing awareness of spirituality as a resource and tool in mental health wellness and recovery. On October 6, 2009 in collaboration with the Alameda County Spirituality workgroup, we organized the National Day of Prayer event. Over 40 individuals representing consumers, family members, providers, spiritual communities and agencies committed to recovery, gathered to recognize the power of unity and its benefits to wellness. We applaud the Spirituality workgroup and their continued commitment and involvement in moving this important initiative forward. Their efforts are greatly appreciated. One year is ending and a new year is beginning. 2010 FY is starting with buzz too good to have you wait a year to read about. Our most recent addition is Program Assistant, Natalie Stone. Natalie is a person with lived experience of mental health challenges and a family member. She has over nineteen years experience in promoting and supporting the development of inclusive and social justice curriculums for grades K - 8. We welcome her to our ever growing team. The last few months we have been busy preparing for a move to 333 Hegenberger, planning the Campaign Advisory Board, and preparing to fill three new full time positions; Training Coordinator, Outreach Coordinator, and Media/ Marketing Coordinator. I am confident through hard work, dedication and joint efforts; we will face and overcome whatever challenges lie ahead. PEERS will continue to advance self-help, consumer and family member empowerment, social inclusion, and cultural and linguistic diversity. We encourage the community to join us as we transform public mental health services to a holistic, strengths-based system that values and builds on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, and uniqueness of each individual. Respectfully, Khatera Aslami Tamplen PEERSpulse, Summer 2010

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Meet The Board

Paulette Malak comes to the P.E.E.R.S. Board of Directors from American Medical Forensic Specialists, where she is Medical Staff Coordinator and Office Manager. Much of her work consists of recruiting medical expert witnesses for a wide range of clients across the country. She brings to her work a voice of advocacy for those struggling with mental health challenges, her own experience as a consumer, and fluency in Arabic. As a consumer, she feels fortunate enough to have parents that have come to understand what it means to take care of both the mind and the body, and that there is a connection between mental wellness and overall health. For some time, she tried to go about her life without addressing the issues that were slowly destroying her health as well as her social and professional lives. Finally, she found the strength to turn to her brother for help. Through the support of her brother and her friends she was empowered to advocate for herself and ask her parents to support her in her journey towards wellness and recovery. She feels that she would not be where she is today without the support of her family and friends, as well as the wellness planning she has done in partnership with her psychiatrist in order to secure a great future. Her connection to P.E.E.R.S. grows from an appreciation of the organization’s community outreach and commitment to being a consumer run organization. She is invested in combating the stigma regarding mental health difficulties, and feels that because of organizations such as P.E.E.R.S., there is a clear voice of encouragement to seek support, wellness planning, and recovery, even when it is not culturally acceptable to do so. She is deeply moved by the stories of people struggling with mental health difficulties, and the positive impact that the work of P.E.E.R.S. continues to do within the Alameda County community. 2


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P.E.E.R.S. is pleased to welcome two new staff members: Lisa Smusz, our new Program Manager and Natalie Stone, our new Program Assistant. Lisa and Natalie are the first of several new staff members since funding began for the Alameda County Social Inclusion Campaign. Lisa Smusz has 15 years of experience in the mental health field, working as a counselor, a university instructor, and as project manager on large-scale projects in the areas of mental health, non-profit, and educational sectors across the Bay Area. Lisa uses her knowledge of American Sign Language to further her work in disability rights activism. As a mental health consumer/ provider and family member, Lisa is passionate about improving mental health outcomes by reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues, promoting recovery model practices, providing greater access to underserved populations, as well as increasing efficiency within the current mental health system of care. Lisa is committed to changing the way the world views individuals who have had mental health struggles, believing that everyone is entitled to support, hope, and self-empowerment. Natalie, our new Program Assistant, has taught and/or developed socially inclusive curriculum for grades kindergarten through eighth. In addition, she has also specialized in educational professional development, strategic planning, and policy PEERSpulse, Summer 2010

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development. Natalie has worked extensively on the local, state, and national level, sharing curriculum and leading workshops at several major conferences. In addition to her work with curriculum development for students, she has also developed parallel curriculum and trainings for both faculty and administration. She continues to remain connected with schools through board memberships. Joining the P.E.E.R.S. staff, as the program assistant for the Alameda County Social Inclusion Campaign, affords her the opportunity to do work for which she has a passion, and also allows her to continually strive to emphasize the importance of inclusivity, in a different professional arena . She strongly believes that honoring the vast diversity of experience helps in our efforts to destigmatize those who live with mental health challenges. As the mother of a 5-year-old, a family member, and a consumer herself, she has a deep vested interest in, and commitment to, the goals of this campaign. Natalie imagines a time when we are having open conversations, in all our communities, about how mental health challenges affect each and every one of us.

My Internship at PEERS By Ted Rogers Interning at P.E.E.R.S. has been a rich and valuable experience. In all my previous work experience, I have never attended meetings that started with a check-in (honest, unguarded sharing of personal information) and a 10-minute meditation for centering. The business discussions that then took place were very efficient, productive and without noticeable conflict. I was able to see how much skill, work, and thoughtful effort goes into producing programs. I could also see the importance of keeping records. Programs do cost money and there is no point in sending the money unless we can show that there is a worthwhile outcome. I learned a lot more about W.R.A.P. and the importance of W.R.A.P. facilitator training. I have benefitted greatly from my own W.R.A.P. Doing my W.R.A.P. alone allows too much room for procrastination, and as a result, not taking needed action. When working in a facilitated W.R.A.P. group I am more able to understand my own thinking, feelings, and I am far more likely to take the actions I have define in my personal W.R.A.P. As I continue my academic studies, I think it is very important for me to continuing volunteering at various programs, where the real world actually lives. I am very interested in the new P.E.E.R.S. effort to promote Social Inclusion and my plan is to continuing volunteering in an effort to help this program to become successful. 3


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FIVE DAY WRAP FACILITATOR TRAINING Five-Day WRAP Facilitator Training WRAP is an individualized plan that supports and empowers individuals to plan and navigate their own wellness and recovery. We cultivate and use the happiness found in daily life to build on our wellness. Save the Date: January 31 – February 4, 2011 PEERS is offering a Five-Day WRAP Facilitator Training. Applications will be accepted later this fall. This training is open to anyone who has completed PEERS’ Three-Day Introduction to Mental Health Recovery and WRAP or an entire cycle of an On-going WRAP Group, who is personally familiar with WRAP, and is highly motivated to become a facilitator. There are no academic or professional prerequisites. Attendance of the Five-Day Training is not a guarantee of certification. Applicants should be prepared to share their personal experiences using WRAP. It is important to note that each participant is required to complete four different performance elements during the 5 Day Training.

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The POCC 2010 “WRAP Around The World” BBQ by Lala Doost On Saturday, August 7th, over 120 POCC members and their families enjoyed the annual POCC BBQ. Washington Park, in Alameda, was the perfect setting for friends to take time to reconnect and enjoy one another. It was a day of many activities, beginning with delicious items from the grill including: hot dogs, burgers, chicken, and kababs. As well as variety of salads, and fantastic desserts which left everyone satisfied. The weather was perfect for, walking along the shoreline, raffling gift baskets, playing flag football, learning and watching dancing, listing to inspirational songs sung by Joyful Voices, competing in an animated game of “WRAPpardy”, and swinging at a pinata for children and adults alike. There was also a powerful opportunity for consumers to share their stories with one another, providing the space to hear the different paths people take towards their own wellness and recovery. As one of the participants said about the successful day, “I’m already looking forward to attending next year’s event!”

Contact Lala Doost at 510-832-7337 or ldoost@peersnet.org for more information or to be placed on our list to receive an application for this training.

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PEERS Pulse Summer 2010 Newsletter