Check out YAC Member Brina William’s Guest Opinion Column in the Lansing State Journal by clicking here.
Williams: Don’t neglect foster care mental health, help address PTSD in displaced youth
There is a silent epidemic facing foster youth that is going unrecognized and unaided; that epidemic is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Former foster youth are nearly twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as U.S. war veterans, and nearly half of Michigan’s 13,000 children and youth in foster care have been exposed to toxic stress and traumatic events… both known causes of PTSD.
More shocking is the lack of aid given to children in the unforgiving system of foster care.
View the entire Guest Column here.
BANG BANG BANG! IT’S GONNA RIP THROUGH MY DULL BRAIN.
BANG BANG BANG! I’M SCRATCHING MY CHEST, I’M CRYING BEGGING FOR REST
I wore my anxiety… too afraid to tell from fear of notoriety
Wore it like a bomb vest, time starts ticking now I’m squeezing on an armrest, my chest pressed is this death row, I GUESS.
But all I want is the best but I obsess over stress.
Anxiety fashion visions of violence that I suppress.
Anxiety caused by heartbreak from the ones that I trust.
I’m so the disgust.
The fear to let it adjust to having it turn to dust.
I believe in good and I believe in trust but my heart
Holds back and my mind holds tighter thinking where’s the lighter CAUSE I’M A FIGHTER WHEN I GET TIRED.
BANG BANG BANG! NOW MY MIND IS FREE
BANG BANG BANG! NOW YOU SEE ANXIETY IS LIKE A SEED AND NOW HERE I AM, I WRIGHT FOR FREE I WANT U TO SEE THAT YEAH SOME ARE JUST LIKE ME STRUGGLING WITH THE SAME DISEASE belief!!!….
As confusing it seems at the same. Time deep down it will all be fine in the end…
I will be the one that struggles, juggles
With his troubles to break out of my bubble, remove a muscle out of the rubble.
I believe anxiety can be controlled and nourished myself easier. In that a bigger hellish cycle is made… the pain is great but I will bite the belt hard with golden grills, no pills just the will to drill till it high above the dirt hill… then may I lay still.
– Isaiah Ortiz
This piece explains anxiety and how it consumes every bit of you. Feeling weak is okay, in reality, you are strong if you comfort yourself and turn to something positive. Hiding pain won’t heal the pain. Anxiety can take you to a very deep dark hole and eat away at your happiness. Just find a place inside where there’s joy and never let it go.
Victoria Lynn Lang
R & R
When you lose yourself in the tormenting trenches of mental illness, all hope may seem lost. You think that you’ll never be who you once were. You won’t be, but this is not a bad thing. Even if you’ve lost everything you used to know and love, there is still hope of recovery, because, recovery is you crafting your new life, your new purpose, potential and passion. Recovery is you building the person who you want to be from yourself. Everyone is capable of recovery, and my recovery was research.
My recovery began after missing two years of high school. During this time I was in and out of hospitals and losing my sense of self. There was no “Davin” anymore, I was overtaken by my mental illness. I have been permanently changed as a result of this and I am not the person I was before, but this is absolutely fine. Through that journey of struggles I have grown, it has made me stronger and more determined and I am more self aware; all which a have helped me find myself.
Everyone has passion and potential, oftentimes it takes a tragedy to spark your passion and unlock your potential. For me, my passion was learning. It started off slowly, with self teaching in various topics, and through countless hours of hard work I was able to start mathematics research with a professor. My passion gave me purpose and a sense of self, which I had gone without for so long. Anyone can pursue their passion in their own time, whatever it may be.
It seems like an insurmountable task when it comes to recovering from a tragedy, but it helps to view your past as your story and not yourself. You are the individual currently living and breathing, you deserve to have a passion and your story can help you find that. The biggest goal when it comes to finding your new self should be stability, but when you are pursuing your passion usually stability follows. It can ground you, allow you to gain traction and help you to keep moving forward.
Research was my passion it gave me purpose and this has lead to my recovery. Nothing will ever be perfect and no one will have a perfect life, but finding your passion can help you find purpose and maintain stability.
Find your new self, your life is worth the time and effort.
By, Halley Miller
Hi my name is Sarah and this month’s topic is about the LGBTQ+ community.
There is a great place called TrevorSpace or the TrevorProject.
If you ever feel alone, there’s always a resource you could go to.
You’re never alone, there’s always someone to talk to.
Someone is always there to listen you with open ears.
I know how it feels to be listened to and not be heard.
But there’s someone always there. Even me!
Keep your head up.
You are strong and I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.
You can reach the Trevor Project here: thetrevorproject.org
November 20, 2017
Things That Have Inspired Me…
The Statewide Youth Advisory Committee shares books, poetry, songs and videos that have inspired them.
Maybe they will inspire you too!
Author ~ Ellen Hopkins
“I chose the book because it hit close to my heart. As I understood their views, I saw myself in each one of the characters. It helped me cope with what I’ve been through. It relates to mental health because 3 teens with troubled pasts cross paths at a psych ward.
October 4, 2017
I recommended “Milk and Honey” because a lot of the things the author
chooses to talk about relate to mental illness. I really enjoy poetry and
I can relate to how the author feels on each page, even if it isn’t the
same way she relates to it. “Milk and Honey” can make me laugh, cry,
scream, dance, etc. depending on how I take what the author wrote.
Overall it’s a great quick read, daily read, read it over and over again kind of book!
July 10, 2017
I’ve gotta run
I’ve gotta hide,
You can’t see
The beast that’s inside.
It tears me apart
Limb from limb,
Why just why
Can’t I ever win?
It plays with me
It changes me
In every way.
It’s like a plane
It flies around,
It hits the ground.
I jump up scared
From my seat,
And all I hear
Is my heartbeat.
It’s the big bullet
That came from behind,
That messed with my mind.
But in the end
It went away,
And in the grave
Is where I lay.
May 30, 2017
In the mental institution,
which we call home,
has some laughter,
but with mostly nightmares,
from the bleeding ears,
to the choking atmosphere,
we can not find any salvation.
a soul dulled over the years,
from the abuse to being imprisoned,
she couldn’t leave,
an outside force wouldn’t let her,
or she will be taken,
to a place that is much darker.
The main host of the home,
sends lines of greed,
but destroys the ones who gives and sacrifices, tying mental tourniquets
to their freedom, self-thought, happiness.
The White Rabbit,
thin and innocent,
but so distant,
sees from eyes of the missing piece,
who can’t do anything but to stare,
at an entertainment box,
to get away from the deadly noises,
by looking at pretty colors and shapes.
there’s the knight,
who protects from the main host,
in her bloodied, scarred armor,
she has been damaged,
her inner demons whisper,
gnawing at her common sense,
yet she protects,
although not forever.
I want to tell you what we go through everyday. Whenever I see people in
public, smiling and laughing, I can’t help but to feel jealous, because
all of us want to be truly happy someday. I love my autistic brother, but
he’s tiring us out, a lot, depleting ourselves for him or we’ll have to
pay the price. I don’t want pity, I want to be heard, because my family’s
getting restless, from not getting more help. Thank you for reading this,
and I hope that you will have a nice day.
February 28, 2017
Through the throes of winter
And when the ravish snowfall won’t surrender
Plants perish, animals slumber,
and the earth is as still as ever
Blankets of silver consume and leave frozen beauty in its wake
The trees wave in the chilled wind,
dancing to silent music winter creates
Individual flakes fall in love and merge together in their sense of forever
Ice crystals form and grow,
and before you know, it’s alluring figure goes
Time seems to slow as winter embraces us
People fear, but there’s no need when it’s apart of us
Accept its love, and I promise you
Through the throes of winter will show it’s beautiful too
They sing to me
They yell at me
They tell me i’m not okay
Seemingly small, just barely above a whisper
Sickly sweet, I start to whimper
Their berceuse encases me into a trance
They question me
They beckon me
They permeate my head with lies
Beautifully their disgust keeps me up at night
Bringing me fright, of what I might not want to hear
Lies, Myths, and other tales, my heart races
I want them out of there
How do I shut out the sibilants
To shun them and show them my resilience
Do I consume, to make my mind all fuzzy?
Do I breathe, gaining the risk of smelling musty?
Or would it be best to rest, joining the stars and the galaxy?
I don’t know what to do
They tell me one thing and soon contradict with another
Why do I even bother.
January 30, 2017
I think what people should know about mental health in teens is a really goes unnoticed A lot of people may say oh they’re just acting out or they just want attention but it goes way beyond that. Some teens get so stressed out that they end up committing suicide, but what I think a lot of people don’t know is it may just take that one word to say you can do it or I’m here for you to save a life some may think is the big things that a make someone’s day but sometimes it’s the little words like I love you or I appreciate you. I know it has worked for me. Here’s an example, My friend was at the point of committing suicide she was getting beat at home at school she was getting bullied and she just couldn’t take life anymore. When she finally told me what was going on and I got her help admittedly. Her mom didn’t know because she lived with her dad. We ended up sitting down talking to her and just the little words I love you and we are here for you changed her mine completely. After that she told us that’s all I needed to here and her mom went to the school and the bullying situation was ended and she started to feel better and went in with her life. What I think everyone should get out of this story is be on the look out and if you see things that’s unusual or not right you should definitely seek help because most teens deal with some type of mental health and sometimes it can lead to suicide but we just have to stick together and encourage one another to stay strong and continue with life. Here’s a poem that I always read and it always keeps me going even when I get down or depressed.
Fighting Two Battles at Once
I wake up to the obnoxious bell alarm to find it’s a chilly Tuesday morning. The daily list of reasons to stay in bed is already forming in my mind: that AP Gov test is today, I have to figure out something to wear that doesn’t make me look homeless, I have to talk to people I don’t like, I have to talk with people I do like but I somehow feel like they don’t like me even though they are a great friend, I have to either fake being happy and feel like my insides are melting into acid or don’t fake being happy and feel bad about being short tempered. The list continues to flood into my mind until I finally take a deep breath and drag myself out of bed. Autopilot kicks in and a half an hour later I’m at school.
First hour is a free period. Easy. The AP Gov test is next hour, I get down to studying. The notes taken during class are already ingrained in my brain, I start reading the book chapter again. Or rather, try to start reading the chapter again. My eyes are looking at the book, but my mind refuses to process what is written. I stare at the word “civil” while thoughts come racing in: you are going to fail the test, your grade is going to plummet, your gpa is going to sink faster than the titanic, you’ll never get scholarships, how are you going to make it through college if you can’t even take an AP Gov test. My eyes dart to the clock, 50 minutes had passed. I sigh, try to slow my pulse down, and start gathering my things.
Inside the Ap Gov classroom my stomach starts churning. I should go home, I don’t want to take this test. I get the dreaded slip of paper, and my mind goes blank. I panic. Deep breath. Ok I know this one, ok I know the next one too. After 15 minutes the paper is turned in, and it was a piece of cake. “Why do I always do this” I think to myself. The thing about anxiety and depression, you have absolutely no control over your own mind. You can’t stop worrying, you can’t stop feeling horrible. Daily tasks that should be easy turn into a difficult, gut wrenching, obstacle.
Check back each month to view a new blog post from a member of the ACMH Youth Advisory Committee
ACMH Youth Advisory Committee: Photo Project
“A picture is worth a thousand words….”
Or so the old saying goes! ACMH Statewide Youth Advisory Committee members each bring a unique story and come from different corners of the state. One of the goals of our group is to raise awareness about mental health ~ So we took to the street in our communities to snap photos that we felt represent mental health in our community. Entries may represent our personal journey; people, services or agencies that have supported us or helped us along the way; or objects or belongings that are symbolic to us or mental health. Check some of our first submissions below!
Artist Statement: “My picture may not look like much, but it was taken in my dialogues on diversity class, where we discuss various social issues, which includes mental health. I greatly contribute to that conversation and often remove the stigma and teach my classmates about mental health. My psychology binder is also in this picture, because I love psychology and I want to be a psychiatrist so I can help kids like me.” Caroline
Artist Statement: The reasons I chose the photo of my family is because I can always count of them in hard times. I know I can lean on them when ever I need them and when I just need someone by my side.”
Youth Leadership Camp
The 2016 ACMH Youth Leadership Camp was a great success! 12 youth from across Michigan attended the camp along with several ACMH staff. Over the course of the two-day event the youth learned about various aspects of leadership and explored sharing their experience with mental health. Topics like personal leadership styles, strategic storytelling, and assertive communication were discussed in hands on group activities. There was also time for fun teambuilding and self-care activities like volleyball, basketball and a campfire (complete with s’mores)!
Here is some of the feedback that participants shared about their experience:
- “Great fun, felt like a family, very fun”
- “This camp was really an eye opener, and has taught me so many things, not just from the activities but from the other participants.”
- “I really love the experience of coming together and having fun!”
Many of the participants at the camp are also members of the ACMH Youth Advisory Committee. The camp was the kickoff event for the committee, and was the first event of a yearlong leadership experience for these youth. In the coming months, the committee will be working together to promote mental health awareness, advise ACMH and other state leaders and provide youth voice in decisions that impact young people in our state. We at ACMH are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with these incredible youth and look forward to the work that’s ahead!
ACMH was pleased to attend the Wraparound Conference last month. It was especially great to meet and spend time with the young people at the event. Youth attendees and youth coordinators from around the state had fun exploring various forms of art, leadership and communication skills in the creative expression workshops. Youth also got to know each other and the coordinators by participating in teambuilding activities and games, such as life sized Jenga and checkers. On the last day, the youth shared the works of art they created in the workshops with conference attendees. Thank you to all the youth and youth coordinators who attended. We hope to see you next year!
The ACMH Youth Leadership Camp is coming up on August 13th and 14th. The camp will be held at the YMCA Storer Camps in Jackson Michigan. Youth with lived experience from around the state will come together to gain leadership skills, network with other youth and learn about opportunities for youth voice. The camp is also the kickoff event for the ACMH Youth Advisory Committee. We at ACMH are incredibly excited about the camp, and can’t wait to partner with members of the youth advisory committee! We look forward to updating you on our work soon!
The 2016 ACMH Conference Was A Great Success!
On May 5th, ACMH celebrated Children’s Mental Health Awareness by holding the 2016 ACMH Annual Conference. This year’s conference theme was “Come Together”. Families, youth providers and community members joined together to share resources, information and personal stories related to Children’s Mental Health. A highlight for many attendees- along with the time tested Beatles tunes that played, and the brightly colored decorations that evoked a special, hopeful feeling in the room- was the incredibly powerful youth presence at the event. Youth from Easter Seals in Oakland County did an amazing job speaking out sharing their experiences with mental health in the Youth Leadership workshop. Here are a few of the comments that were shared from observers:
“Youth advisory council-WOW! I would love more information about/from them. Very powerful young people.”
“The teen group was the best they gave me so much information. Great job to the teens. Glad they were here!
“I actually understood how my son may be feeling. I now can go back to him with what I learned.” ”
We are very thankful to these youth for attending the event. Your willingness to “come together” for Children’s Mental Health made all the difference!
Youth Peer Support at Michigan Annual Peer Conference
The 2016 Michigan Annual Peer Conference was held May 24th-26th in Lansing. ACMH was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the “Unity and Community” and delivered a workshop on peer support for youth and families. We would like to give special thanks and recognition to the YPSSs who attended the conference this year. Here are some of the ways they helped spread the word about Youth Peer Support:
- Sharing their experiences and providing the YPSS perspective on a Youth and Parent Support Panel
- Facilitating and leading the Youth Involvement Vs. Youth Peer Support: What’s the Difference workshop
- Facilitating and leading the Self-Care support group
- Representing Youth Peer Support and attending conference workshops
Thank you again YPSSs for all that you do. We are so excited to have YPS as a part of the continuum of peer delivered services in Michigan!
Wraparound is pleased to announce that the Eighteenth Annual Wraparound Conference will be held June 29th-July 1st at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire Michigan. The theme of the conference this year is “Help for today; Hope for tomorrow”. The purpose of this conference is to build on successes and enhance Wraparound by exploring new resources and innovations. Special announcement to young people: don’t miss the youth track at this year’s event! Youth attendees are invited to participate in these interactive workshops that will bring youth together and provide meaningful skill building opportunities. We look forward to seeing you there and will update you about all of the exciting happenings after the event.
May is here and that marks the start of something special:
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month
This annual event helps raise awareness about issues and causes related to children’s mental health. The National Federation of Families has announced the theme for 2016 as “Healthy Families, Resilient Children: Mental Health is a Family Affair!” We at ACMH agree that children’s mental health affects all family members in unique ways. We were excited to hear youth speak out on the importance of mental health in their own words. Here is how young people from Saginaw and Kalamazoo told us they are helping raise awareness in their communities and why this week matters to them.
On May 5th, Calling All Youth M.O.V.E will host a booth at Kalamazoo Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (KCMHSAS)’s 11th Annual Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Carnival. Carnival goers will be able to “Dunk Out Stigma” at CAY M.O.V.E’s dunk tank, where participants will wear T-shirts specially made by members of the group. Tasha Beischl talks about the significance of the activity: “We decorated shirts with a negative stigma on the front so people could come and dunk the stigma,” she explains. “It’s a visual for people helping people get rid of stigma”.
Youth and family members who visit the CAY M.O.V.E booth will also have the opportunity to create beautiful tissue paper flowers. The flowers will be used as centerpieces for the KCMHSAS annual Mental Health Breakfast the following week. CAY M.O.V.E member Arrion Hill is excited about the event. “The breakfast brings people together in the community to show that everyone is working together for one purpose,” she says.
When asked about the importance of the May events, Elmahdi Sprague says: “It’s important for people to be aware of it, to know other people out there are just like them and dealing with the same challenges. It brings them together to share a day and have fun and forget about some of their worries.” Elmahdi, Tasha and Arrion have made incredible contributions to children’s mental health awareness as long time members of CAY M.O.V.E. They are graduating from the program this spring.
Saginaw MAX System of Care and the youth of Youth Breaking Boundaries (YBB) have planned a variety of activities and events for children and families this May including Fun on the Run, Show Me Nutrition and the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Celebration. Kolby Holden, President of YBB explains the importance of raising awareness for Children’s Mental Health: “It gives people with mental health challenges the opportunity to be to be noticed. And for us to show that we love them and that we embrace them as individuals… It shows appreciation and love and that we do see them.” YBB member Sierra Cortez also says “It is important that other people are aware because it lets kids know that they are appreciated and they are not any difference than we are.”
Long time YBB member Gaven Mersha is especially excited about the Show Me Nutrition class for youth. “People can come together and learn how to cook, and that is a great skill that is needed in the community,” he says. “If we eat better we can help improve the self-esteem of the community and come together more- we can see the inner sides of people instead of people being afraid. Everyone has something great inside them.”
TJ Holden, Transitional Peer with YBB talks about how YBB is making an impact in the community, saying “YBB is powerful because it shows that we are trying to break down barriers of stigma of people who are different, such as gender, race, and sexuality. We are bringing together people as one people. We are human. It is a powerful way to reach out and show people that we are all one at the end of the day.”
We at ACMH want to give huge props to all the youth leaders who are helping raise awareness for Children’s Mental Health, and a special thanks to the youth who shared voices and work with us this May. To learn more about activities mentioned here, please visit the links below.
Saginaw Max System of Care Website