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River City Advocacy

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Summary of a LINK Article from NOHS Website Students are required to select one (1) article from the The Link newsletter (available via the NOHS website) and summarize its main points as well as provide analysis on the topic. A cover page is required, but no abstract or additional sources are needed; otherwise, the paper should follow APA format. The article should be printed and attached to the back of the summary. (2-3 pages double-spaced). Article Summary Grading Rubric:- Accurately describes main points of the article in a succinct yet comprehensive manner, as well as provides analysis on the article’s topic: Demonstrates college level writing (grammar, spelling, page length requirements, etc.) and APA formatting: (i have copied and pasted NOHS article into word document and attached under materials)

River City Advocacy
MeridethMcCallick Erickson

River City Advocacy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in New Braunfels, Texas specializing in recovery support services for people with persistent mental and behavioral health issues and various developmental difficulties. We are a Consumer Operated Service Provider with 50% of our staff and 100% of our governing board having lived experience with persistent mental health issues. River City Advocacy provides our services at little to no cost for our consumers; we serve the underserved, underinsured, and uninsured in our community. As the Executive Director, I strive to reduce stigma associated with persistent mental illness, behavioral health issues, and developmental difficulties in our community through community awareness efforts. At River City Advocacy, we provide peer based mental health recovery support systems needed in our community. Our vision is to advocate, educate, and facilitate acceptance of mental health issues. We offer free peer support, person centered recovery planning, support groups, lifeskills workshops, career and job coaching, computer skills training, and art therapy. Our individual, couple, and family counseling services are offered based on a sliding scale fee system. Our socialization opportunities assist with life and social skills and offer a sense of community and acceptance. Mental health issues are more common than heart disease, lung disease, and cancer combined. It is estimated that one in four Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lives. Former President Bill Clinton said, “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” Stigma is a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses. What is a Mental Illness? Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functionality. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a reduced capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. Mental illness recovery is possible. Mental illness does not discriminate; it can affect people of any age, race, religion, and/or socioeconomic status. The general public needs to understand that mental illnesses are NOT the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Mental illness is treatable, and most people diagnosed with a mental illness can and do experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individualized recovery treatment plan. In addition to psychosocial treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, or counseling, peer support groups assist consumers with recovery. Page 6 Volume 35, Issue 2 LINK Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery from the National Alliance on Mental Illness website: • Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportionabout 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year. • The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children. • Mental illness usually strikes individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable. • Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States. What is Peer Support? By definition, peer support is getting help from someone who has been through similar situations, illnesses, etc. People that have similar experiences may be able to listen, give hope, and guidance toward recovery in a way that is different, and may be just as valuable as professional services. In addition to the direct services one may receive, many peerrun organizations advocate to improve opportunities for people recovering from mental illnesses. Peer support programs like River City Advocacy, Inc. strengthen primary care practice and community health by reaching the vulnerable populations and reducing health disparities. We offer a variety of peer support groups with the hope of meeting the recovery needs of mental health consumers in the community. What happens in a Support Group? The Support Groups are the core of River City Advocacy’s programming. In support group meetings consumers meet in a friendly, nonthreatening environment that we like to call the “judgment free zone.” The meetings run for about an hour, and we ensure confidentiality for all of the participants. We encourage active participation, however if a consumer is not quite ready to share, then they do not have to. When thoughts and emotions are shared, encouragement is offered in a variety of ways; we do not say “you need to do X, Y, Z” or pass judgment; this is a time for facilitators and peers to step in and help them to come up with positive solutions to their issues. Facilitators are licensed professional counselor interns and certified peer support specialists. At River City Advocacy we meet our consumers where they are and help them realize they are MORE than a diagnosis.

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