MCMHA Consumer Newsletter June 2016

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Lighting the Way A publication of Monroe Community Mental Health Authority June 2016

From the Director’s Desk If you have been in our lobby during the past month, you may have noticed a difference. The bare walls have been decorated with art, motivational quotations, and butterflies! These changes are the result of our wish to better engage, inform, and, hopefully, inspire one another on the promise of recovery. Recovery is a very individual process, and can be difficult to define. One of the better definitions I have heard comes from William Anthony, Director of Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (1993), who said that recovery is “a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with the limitations caused by illness.” Most people agree that recovery also involves principles of self-direction, empowerment, peer support, respect, responsibility, and hope. It is holistic, person centered, and strengths based. Finally, recovery is non-linear meaning that it doesn’t move neatly from point A to point B to point C, but can take two steps forward, three steps back, and many twists and turns. Over the past month, those we serve have courageously shared with us their definitions of recovery. Written on the paper butterflies that adorn our lobby are words and phrases like “faith” “love” “joy” “40 years of sobriety” and “recovery means that you get better with time.” What a beautiful illustration to someone who is struggling to see so many examples of hope and peer support! It is the goal of MCMHA that each person we serve knows that recovery is possible. Although we cannot define recovery for you, we can help you define it for yourself and walk with you on your journey. Just as important as medication and therapy is the hope of recovery. Connecting with peers who have lived experience with mental illness, holding the hope when you feel hopeless, reminding you of strengths when you feel weak, offering options instead of advice so that you experience responsibility and empowerment – these are all such important pieces of treatment and cannot be overlooked or underutilized. The next time you come in take a moment to read the testimonies of others and consider getting your own butterfly to let others know what recovery means to you. Sharing our stories and learning from one another is powerful for everyone and also makes a big difference in eliminating the stigma that so often accompanies mental illness – stigma that has silenced too many people for too many years. Thank you for allowing MCMHA to be a part of your recovery journey. Lisa Jennings Chief Executive Director


Rights Corner…………...2 Great Opportunities in South County…………...2 Human Trafficking Awareness………………….….3 11 Things you can do daily for your Mental Health..4-5 7 Things about Autism..6-7 Transition Services……...7 Ask the Advocate……….8 Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma……………….8-10 Helpful Information…...11

Rights Corner

The Rights Office wants you to know… At the end of every investigation completed by the Rights Office (ORR) the complainant, consumer, and guardian receive a final report and have 45 days to submit an appeal. Once received, the Recipient Rights Advisory Committee, which acts as the designated Appeals Committee, has 5 business days to review the grounds for the appeal and notify the appellant if it has been accepted or denied. Grounds for an appeal include: ORR’s findings are not consistent with the facts, law, rules, policies or guidelines; the action taken or proposed by the provider is not an adequate remedy for the concern; OR an investigation was not initiated or completed on a timely basis.


If an appeal has been accepted, the Committee must meet in closed session within 30 days to review the appeal and ORR’s investigative report. As a part of the meeting, members are advised of confidentiality expectations and the requirement to disclose any conflicts of interest. The Committee also allows for comment by the appellant (if present) before voting to: uphold the ORR findings and the action taken or planned by the provider; uphold the findings of ORR, but recommend additional or different actions to remedy the violation; return the investigation to ORR and request that it be re-opened or re-investigated; OR recommend to the CMH Board that an external investigation by the State ORR be conducted. A written response justifying the decision is then issued to the provider, appellant, consumer, guardian, CMH Director, and ORR within 10 days. Additionally, information is included on the appellant’s right to appeal to the State ORR within 45 days IF the original grounds for the appeal were that ORR’s findings were inconsistent with the facts of the case (or with laws, rules, policies, or guidelines).

Great opportunities in South County Did you know CHS has a skill building program in Temperance? Located near the intersection of Summerfield and Smith, this program gives families a convenient option for additional services. Ann Dugan, Program Coordinator, and her staff have created a program designed to meet the needs of consumers ranging in abilities. Each month they specialize in a skill that staff works diligently to implement each day. These skills are discussed each morning so clients can utilize these new techniques. At the end of the day staff report back to clients and encourage them in their progress. The program utilizes a mixture of CLS and skill building to give participants a well- rounded experience. One of the many benefits of this program are the choices provided to families and consumers. Ann puts out an activity calendar each month so consumers know exactly what they will participate in each day. Some of the daily options include yoga, art, volunteering, computer training, and art classes. Many parents enjoy sitting down with their kids to pick and choose the days they would like to attend. In addition to the engaging week day activities, CHS South County is open on Saturdays! Parents have found this time beneficial particularly as respite hours can be hard to come by. On Saturdays clients utilize CLS hours and engage in the community, visiting museums, going to movies, attending festivals, and so much more! If interested in scheduling a tour or learning more about their activities, contact Ann Dugan at 734-224-7001.

Human Trafficking Awareness On Tuesday, May 17th Monroe Community Mental Health hosted an awareness event on Human Trafficking. Trooper Tressa Duffin from the Michigan State Police presented to staff, providers and community members. Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that occurs around the world and the USA. It is a market based economy that exists on principles of supply and demand. It thrives due to conditions which allows for high profits to be generated at low risk. Human Trafficking involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, fraud or coercion. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking and anyone can be a trafficker.

100,000 to 200,000 of our children in the United States are taken into human trafficking each year. The trafficker usually looks for those that are vulnerable. The trafficker offers to buy the victim things they want, gives the victim lots of affection and love and promises them a better way of life. Those that are in human trafficking avoid any type of eye contact, they are stripped of all identification and usually afraid to seek out help because the trafficker has made them believe that they can’t survive without them. Most traffickers today find their victims on social media and the internet. It takes as little as 8 minutes for a trafficker to win over their victims. Those in human trafficking are either kidnapped (3%), sold by their own family (35%) or tricked by someone they trust (62%). Every 2 minutes a child becomes a victim of sexual exploitation and every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim. Each year a child in human trafficking serves between 100 to 1500 clients and makes between $800.00 to $1,000.00 per night. An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year. An average life span of a trafficked child is 7 years. Human trafficking is the 3rd largest commodity in the US currently. $32 billion per year industry. Michigan has seen an increase in reported human trafficking cases. In 2015 a 152 human trafficking cases were reported. 122 were for sex trafficking and 18 for labor trafficking. th

Michigan is currently ranked 13 in human trafficking. The top 5 states are California, Texas, Florida, Minnesota and Ohio (with Toledo being the 3rd largest recruiting city for human trafficking in our nation). There is a lot that we can do to help. Be aware of your surroundings, if you see something that doesn’t look right call 911. If someone is avoiding eye contact ask them questions like; what is their living condition like, what kind of job do they have, are they free to go as they please, do they have any identification on them. Make your kids aware of what is going on out there. If someone comes up to them and starts making compliments to them or offering them a better way of life, tell them to run and let you know immediately. Check your kids’ social media sites. Talk to them and find out what’s going on in their lives and let them know you care and are always there for them. To report a possible Human Trafficker you can call the National hotline 24/7 at 888-373-7888. Not sure contact 911 and let the authorities know. Submitted By: Bridgitte K. Gates – Customer Services/Provider Relations Manager


11 Things You Can Do Daily for your Mental Health So You can Stay Balanced and Happy By: Carina Wolff When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often focus more on our physical body. However, maintaining your mind is just as important, and there are things we should be doing every day to improve our mental health. Just like our body needs to get into a routine, so does our brain, and taking the steps to ensure our optimal mental health can have us feeling just as healthy as eating a good kale salad. "If we don't pay attention to our daily habits, we will get stuck in our emotions, which very often leads to maladaptive thinking," says therapist and well-being coach Shira Taylor Gura. "This leads to negative effects on our health (physical, emotional, and mental) and ultimately on our life." Focusing on your mental health can improve your immune system, increase your productivity, and even help you live longer, according to multiple studies, so there's no reason we shouldn't put as much attention on our emotional wellbeing to our minds. What better way than to start off small and add in little activities each day? To boost your overall happiness, lower your stress, and even improve your physical health, do these 11 things daily that can help your mental health. 1. Excercise "Studies have consistently shown us that exercise has positive effects on brain function, anxiety, self-image, and recovery from addiction," says psychologist and health coach Iris McAlpin. "It doesn't have to be an intense workout, but getting your heart rate up and moving your body for at least 20 minutes a day makes a world of difference for your mental health."


2. Socialize Multiple studies show that having strong social ties with people can decrease your risk for depression, improve your physical health, and even lengthen your lifespan, according to Harvard Health. "We satisfy our social urges by getting on Facebook and seeing what people are up to, but it doesn't nourish us the same way genuine connection does," says McAlpin. "Pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. Go for a walk with a confidant. Have people over for dinner." 3. Express Gratitiude Consider keeping a journal where you write down what you are grateful for daily or even weekly. "It can be easy to focus on negatives when things aren't going well, but incorporating even a 5-minute gratitude practice into your day can completely alter your mindset," says McAlpin. Regular expression of gratitude can help lower stress levels and even improve your immune system, according to WebMD. "The more we focus on what is good about our lives, the more goodness shows up." 4. Spend Time Outside Even just spending five minutes in nature can boost not only your mood, but your self-esteem as well, according to research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. "Sun exposure will help your brain release the hormone serotonin, which is a natural mood enhancer," says therapist Ada Pang. 5. Meditate Many studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can ease anxiety and regulate stress, according to Harvard Health. "F or some, mediation might be doing yoga,"says Darren Pierre, PhD. "F or others, it is the stillness that comes through prayer. Whatever your practice, find what works for you to get still, and begin raising the volume of your own inner voice."

11 Things You Can Do Daily for your Mental Health So You can Stay Balanced and Happy (cont’d) 6. Do Something Nice Committing kind acts can not only benefit someone else, but it can make you feel better as well. Research from the University of British Columbia found that people who regularly do nice little things for people such as holding the door experience reduced anxiety, an increase in mood, and a decrease in social avoidance. "Give compliments along the way in your day," says Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R. "Why? Because making others feel good feels good." 7. Have a Good Laugh "We all love to laugh and it makes us feel good," says life coach Tom Casano. "But the mental health benefits go beyond us just having a good time. Laughter increases your ability to learn, improves your shortterm memory, and reduces your stress levels." 8. Sit up Straight If you're someone who slouches at work, you may want to work on your posture. A study published in the journal Health Psychology found that sitting in a slumped position makes you feel more sluggish, fearful, quiet, and hostile than sitting up straight, which instead elicits more happy and powerful emotions.

9. Get Adequate Sleep Just because you have other things on your plate doesn't give you an excuse to put sleep on the back burner. "Sufficient sleep energizes your brain cells, keeps up your motivation for daily life activities, and gives you a more peaceful feeling about your day," says Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. "Although it’s generally thought that eight hours is the norm, each person has their own requirements. The important thing is to get enough, and don’t skimp and end up exhausted, unproductive, anxious or even depressed." 10. Have Something to Look Forward To "Every day everyone needs something to look forward to," says mental health counselor Lynn Berger. "It can be social, physical, or whatever one likes to do and takes comfort in." In one study from the journal Applied Research In Quality Of Life, researchers found that planning a trip elicits just as much happiness as actually going on the vacation. 11. Learn Something New Keep your mind fresh but picking up a new hobby or reading about a topic you don't know about. "As we age, we narrow down our learning based on career choices, but it is essential to expand our knowledge to keep a positive outlook on life and continue to grow," says Hollman. People who spend their time learning new things past child show greater overall wellbeing and better abilities coping with stress, according to the NHS. Incorporating these routines into your day can improve your overall quality of life and even have you more motivated to pick up other healthy habits as well.


7 Things You Need to Learn about Autism By: Emily Willingham Autism is not a mental illness or disease It’s been included in the diagnostic manual that some clinicians use: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So if you think it’s a mental illness, that’s understandable. But it’s not. It’s a developmental condition, one that is rooted in how the brain organizes and takes shape during embryonic and fetal development. Autistic people are born, not made. Autism is not a “person-first” kind of disability The golden rule of disability language has been that the person should come first in phrasing, preceding the condition that disables them. For example, people who have diabetes aren’t “diabetics” in respectful usage but instead are “people with diabetes.” But developmental conditions and those related to the brain are a trickier territory. With a nod to Francis Crick, if your brain is you and you are your brain (with some guidance from your endocrine system and your environmental inputs), then how appropriate or even rational is it to separate the person and the condition? Many people want to say “person with autism,” but to a lot of autistic activists, that phrasing is silly, like saying “Person with Brain.” For them, autism and brain and themselves are all one and the same. Autistic activist Jim Sinclair wrote in 1999 about instead using “identity first” language. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network also features an essay by autistic activist Lydia Brown, elaborating the concept. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every autistic person prefers that phrasing, and it’s always best to go with what any individual with a condition expresses as their preference.


Autism is not a childhood-only condition Although most studies treat autism as a childhood condition (a simple comparative PubMed search turns up about three times as many child-focused studies as adult-based research), it’s not. It’s lifelong. As Steve Silberman wrote in his blockbuster book, NeuroTribes, about the history of autism, autistic adults have always been around. They’ve just been hidden away in institutions, labeled with ever-changing diagnostic terms, and often dehumanized. That’s starting to change, but more needs to be done because… Autistic adults struggle–they struggle for jobs, they struggle for health, they struggle for recognition, and they struggle to be heard What research does show is that autistic adults are unemployed at greater rates than the general population, die sooner, and can struggle through almost a lifetime before getting an accurate diagnosis and the supports they need. If we focus more on helping autistic people and less on chasing down cures and ineffectually switching to blue lightbulbs, a lot of that could change. Autism involves disability, but the disability often relates directly to a non-accommodating environment or inflicted intervention Autistic people will tell you where and when they feel disabled in a world of non-autistic people. Much of their feeling of disability relates to communication gaps between autistic and non-autistic people and struggles to organize and function in a world that lacks accommodation. Other areas of disability become apparent when the attempted interventions or accommodations are more suppressive than supportive, more harmful than helpful. Two examples are an insistence on eye contact as a way of expressing aural attention and an insistence on “quiet hands,” even though flapping or other stereotyped hand motions are, for many autistic people, an outlet for strong emotions from joy to anxiety. The terms “high functioning” and “low functioning” are often misapplied in autism Autism is not a diagnosis that reflects cognitive function. It reflects instead what being human intrinsically is, but often magnified: difficulties with expressed (and sometimes receptive) language and executive function, the use of motor and vocal “stims” to self-regulate, sometimes-profound sensory differences and what can be an exquisite and refined attention and awareness that aren’t typical of non-autistic people. The diagnosis of autism does not, however, include specifiers about cognitive function, yet most people who apply function terms to autism are referencing cognition alone. Unless the autism-related “function” in question references the disabilities that are autism-specific–like the effort to manage overwhelming sensory inputs or interpret nonverbal cues–then the terms are irrelevant at best and problematic at worst.

7 Things You Need to Learn about Autism (Cont’d) Autism is largely a disability of communication with non-autistic people, yet little research has focused on how to bridge the two communities The greatest gap for autistic people, especially those who are nonspeaking, is that non-autistic people have trouble understanding their needs, feelings and ideas, in part because non-autistic people rely so much on rapidly processed spoken expression. Some autistic people will develop their own lexicons of gestures and echolalia phrases, among other adaptations, to try to communicate with non-autistic people. While that struggle has been going on a long time, the non-autistic population has not done nearly as much to bridge this communication gap so that they can better understand what autistic persons are trying to say. Instead, money has gone down a million rabbit holes, dead-ending at a million cul de sacs and turning up nothing useful. That’s a shame, but it’s also something we can change. Did you already know these things about autism? Don’t just be aware. Really show you care. Let others know because misconceptions matter, and information and understanding are the needed ingredients for acceptance.

Transition Services: The Road to Adulthood Throughout school, young adults with disabilities will be exposed to a transitional process that will provide a foundation for the adult world. It is important to plan for the future and assure students have the opportunity to identify their goals, receive appropriate evaluations, have access to community supports and gain the skill sets necessary to succeed. GOALS Students are individuals with dreams and goals of their own. Once goals are identified, it allows their team to develop appropriate and measurable objectives to achieve it. For example, if an individual is interested in being a veterinarian, find out why. Do they just like animals? Do they like the idea of caring for something? Answering these types of questions forecasts what life after school will look like. A goal ensures the necessary skills and educational experiences are integrated into the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). EVALUATIONS It is vital that a student’s IEP reflect the ojectives needed to ensure the transition is successful. Proper evaluations conducted on behalf of the student highlight areas that need attention. Schools tend to rely on the ESTR-J or ESTR III (Enderle-Severson Transition Rating Scale Form J/Form III). While it is a good screening tool, it doesn’t really do enough to give a full picture of what the student’s needs, interests and abilities are. Most of the questions are vague and can easily be interpreted several ways. Additional evaluations are needed in order to provide team members with a complete picture. A plan based on thorough assessments can support the student in their goals, whether they are in continued education, employment or both. SUPPORT SERVICES According to Michigan law, transition starts at the age of 16. Parents or guardians should start asking what services are available in their school district before their student turns 16. Many districts have access to several types of programs. Research what resources are available. Determine if the programs provided will work based on the students goals and evaluation data. If not, ask the district to add additional services to their progrm or mirror what outside districts are currently doing. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT School districts are not the only resource for transition services. Under the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) and your local Community Mental Health (CMH) agencies are responsible for providing transitional support as well. Invite MRS, BSBP and CMH to the IEP meetings. Include MRS in the process prior to the student’s senior year and understand what programs and services MRS provides in the community. The more opportunities and supports presented to the student, the more successful they will be. Transtion is an important piece of the education puzzle. Students, parents, and guardians should plan early and stay informed. Utilize the collaborative resources avaialble to guide the process. The goal of transiton is to put students first, allowing them to successfully enter into adulthood.


Ask the Advocate for Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services: Accessing Behavior Supports Question: I have a 10-year old child with autism. I am being called by the school to pick him up frequently due to poor behavior. Is there anything the school can do to address my child’s behavior and keep him in school? Response: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensur ing ser vices to childr en with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA focuses on positive behavioral support to prevent behavior problems in school. The law requires development of behavior support plans (BSPs), involvement by general education teachers, and use of behavior support as an alternative to discipline when a student’s behavior impedes learning. The BSP can be developed as part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process whenever the student’s behavior becomes an issue. By developing a comprehensive BSP during the IEP process, parents may be able to prevent the need for future discipline if the school fails to adhere to the BSP and the student misbehaves.


A BSP is only as good as the data that supports it. Whenever a student’s behavior has become an issue, data should be collected by school staff through a functional behavior assessment (FBA). A FBA is flexible and should be revised as needed. The four main goals of an FBA are to: 1. Describe the behavior 2. Predict when and where the behavior may occur 3. Identify the possible reasons for that individual’s behavior across time and places 4. Propose supports that address the reasons why the behavior occurs and redirects the behavior appropriately

There are many positive outcomes that can result from IEP teams effectively conducting FBAs under the appropriate circumstances. These include enabling the student to derive meaningful benefit from the IEP through skill development and reduction in problem behavior, providing staff with positive approaches to short and long term support, and integrating relevant information, from a variety of sources, of contributing factors associated with problem behavior. In short, your child has the right to receive behavioral supports in the form of BSPs, IEPs and FBAs when necessary to overcome behavior-created barriers to learning. The insight gleaned through these various resources can be directly translated into effective strategies and supports that result in positive outcomes for all involved in the process. For more information, see the Special Education: An Advocates Manual” through Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services (MPAS). The manual is available in print or on-line at

5 Ways You May be Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma Without Knowing It By: Sarah Aziza

Few of us would ever want to do harm with our words; in an ideal world, we’d all strive to be sensitive to those around us and to avoid denigrating or abusive language. Awareness campaigns and activism have contributed to some encouraging trends towards more inclusive language surrounding race, gender, abilities and body size, yet cultural blind spots remain — and the sphere of mental and emotional health is one arena where stigma still abounds. And these stigmas aren't harmless — they have grave implications for those among us who deal with psychological conditions by deepening personal shame and isolation.

5 Ways You May be Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma Without Knowing It (cont’d) This is all the more concerning considering that many people keep their conditions private — chances are, more of your friends and family have been touched by mental health disorders than you’re aware. While few of us would ever actively disparage our friends for dealing with mental illness, there are many ways that passive stigma makes its way into everyday speech. As we seek to be better friends and allies, it's helpful to be vigilant about the language we choose. Below are a few common ways that our ordinary speech and "harmless" jokes may be hurting those around us. 1.

Speaking Negatively about “Therapy”

Millions of Americans seek some sort of psychological therapy — according to a 2004 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, nearly half of all American households have a member who seeks mental health treatment in any given year. While studies show that seeing a professional therapist is a highly effective method of treating many emotional and mental conditions, and one of the best ways to guard against relapse, it remains a highly stigmatized topic. Thanks to outdated ideas of what therapy entails — like lying on long leather couches and taking Rorschach tests — many people still imagine that “seeing a shrink” is something that only “crazy” people do. Often, “getting therapy” is used as shorthand to imply that someone is weak or poorly adjusted, or as an off-handed way of expressing our contempt for someone. We’ve all heard the false “concern” in comments like “My ex was so needy/crazy/etc…I don’t know, I think she needs to see a shrink or something.” The truth is, therapy can be an important part of well-being for people who experience acute symptoms, as well as those simply navigating the “normal” challenges of daily life. When psychiatry is portrayed as something reserved only for the very sick, very weak, or very narcissistic, many who could benefit from therapy avoid seeking treatment. What’s more, those who are engaging in treatment feel shamed for their “weakness,” and this added isolation can undermine their progress. It’s important to remember that seeking treatment is a sign of courage and hope, an effort that should be celebrated, not condemned. 2. Joking about Being “Addicted” Or “Obsessed” Addictions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors are both complex conditions that impact countless people — according to some estimates, 23.5 million Americans are dealing with alcohol or drug addictions. In some cases, substance abuse or compulsive behavior can have a devastating effect on the lives of individuals and their communities. Much remains unknown about the mechanics of addictions and obsessive behaviors — there are elements of biochemistry and genetics, alongside social context and personal choice. Regardless, these conditions are no laughing matter. Too often, words like “addicted” and “obsessed” are used to convey someone’s strong preference for something — “I’m totally addicted to Scandal, “ someone might say, although what she actually means is, it’s a show she enjoys watching frequently. “I’m obsessed with yoga,” someone else might say, by which he means, he practices yoga several times a week. Misusing labels like this can be misleading and demeaning, and lead us to not take compulsive or addictive behaviors as seriously as we should. 3. Making Jokes About Medication “Dude, are you off your meds or something?” "I'm so tired, can I have some of your ADD pills?" Prescription medication is often part of a broad strategy for well-being. While prescriptions are ideally made under the close supervision with doctors and alongside other forms of physical and emotional treatment, jokes like the ones above reduce them to a sole strategy for mental health, or even imply that you're using them recreationally, instead of for your health.


5 Ways You May be Perpetuating Mental Health Stigma Without Knowing It (cont’d) Would you ask your diabetic friend to slip you some of his insulin? That’d be insensitive, right? Asking your friend to bum you a few of the meds they take for their attention disorder implies that the meds are more of a convenient "upper" than treatment for a real disease. Likewise, telling someone in a bad mood to take some antidepressants implies that it is not a “serious” medication for “actual” illnesses, but rather a “happy pill” that can be self-prescribed as a shortcut to dealing with a bad day. This is not only a reductive understanding of the purpose of medication, but it also demeans the experiences of those who have actually been diagnosed with depression and rely on prescribed drugs as part of their treatment. 4. Believing Inaccurate Stereotypes About Eating Disorders


An estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder of some type. By some estimates, as many as 10 percent of college age women have some sort of clinical disorder related to food, while many more have “sub-clinical” conditions. Despite these high rates and the diverse demographics affected by disordered eating, cultural conceptions of eating disorders remain narrow and stigmatizing. Much of the incriminating commentary around the issue is gendered as well — thin women are likely to be accused of an eating disorder, while men obsessed with their diet and weight are praised for their devotion to “fitness.” Similarly, individuals with a normal weight are seldom suspected of disordered eating, despite the fact that the majority of people with disordered eating are at or above a healthy weight. Jokes about weight and eating disorders can be incredibly damaging, and at the very least, perpetuate misinformation. If you're concerned about a friend's weight or eating behavior, consider whether an informed, private conversation might be appropriate. But leave the joking aside. 5. Not Asking Enough Questions With so many potential pitfalls, it can be easy to think the solution is to avoid speaking about issues of mental health altogether. This would not be a solution — because silence can be stigmatizing, too. Rather, the best antidote to misunderstanding and shame is often respectful conversation. Ask about language — are there words to avoid, words that your friend prefer you use instead? Ask about support — is there anything you can do to be more considerate? When appropriate, asking a friend to help you understand her experience better through personal stories can be a powerful way to dismantle the illusion of difference that stigma can create.

Helpful Information Adjusting medication can be difficult. You may have to remember: a new dose, a new brand name, or a new time to take it. The University of Michigan found medication apps that can address this problem. The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center studied 20 apps and found 2 free apps, which are easy to use and helpful: Medisafe and HealthSavvi. Medisafe is available on iPhone and Android. Users can input medication names, medication doses, instructions for taking them, and a friend who will be alerted if a dose is skipped. “Med-friends” receive alerts stating the user has forgotten to take their meds, and provides options for contacting them – text, a phone call, or an email.


Healthsavvi is available on iPhone. It has the same options as Medisafe, with the additional feature of requesting online refills at Walgreens. The study found these two apps to be the best based on their function, their design, and their visual appeal.

Assistive technology is a rapidly changing field, and for many people with disabilities, it enhances independence. But it can add up. If a loan is necessary, or if a used item is okay, then check out Michigan Loan Funds or

The United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan administers the Michigan Loan Funds. If a person with a disability would like a loan to pay for assistive technology, or to pay for items necessary to access employment, applications can be downloaded from the Web site: Loans for assistive technology can range from $50 to $30,000. Loans for access to employment allow people to purchase equipment to work from home. They also enable people to create or maintain their own business. (A business plan is required.) The loans are unique, because they do not require applicants to have collateral, and the repayment terms can be flexible. Atxchange is an online classified ad space, which allows users to buy, sell, or donate a used assistive technology item. The ads are free, and some items are free. Most items are sold at a lower cost. The site features 10 categories of items, which include: daily living, computer, mobility, learning, speech communication, recreation, hearing, vision, environmental adaptation, and vehicle modification and transportation. To sell or donate items, users must create a free account at

Monroe Community Mental Health Authority P.O. Box 726 1001 S. Raisinville Road Monroe, MI 48161

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