Good tidings and happy holidays! We at Shore House would like to inform you that December is Human Rights Month. During this month, people all around the nation recognize their status as human beings and celebrate the rights granted to them by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed into law on December 10th, 1948. As you may know, individuals with mental illness are restricted or denied from certain rights solely because of their mental health status, which directly contradicts the contents of the Universal Declaration.
It is worth noting that the United States has not ratified any international human rights treaties in 13 years. These treaties that protect some of the most vulnerable populations have yet to be ratified by the United States. Also, these treaties adopt the core values that a majority of Americans support, in addition to due process and non-discrimination.
In particular, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has not been either signed or ratified by the United States, while every other member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has either signed or ratified this convention. If you are unfamiliar about the CRPD, it emphasizes autonomy, respect, equality, and dignity and worth of those with disabilities. It represents a platform where individuals are perceived as capable of claiming their rights and making their own decisions, rather than others making decisions for them. Even though the United States enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the signature and ratification of the CRPD would potentially make the United States a leader in acknowledging rights and protections for those with disabilities.
We at Shore House support and advocate for human rights to be distributed to everyone, regardless of mental health status. In order to assure human rights are properly bestowed upon our members, we assist them by helping them with:
As a facility that promotes equality between its members and staff, Shore House proudly celebrates Human Rights Month and we encourage all who read this to contribute to ensuring that everyone is able to exercise their rights without the worry of discrimination.
So, what can you do to help support the disadvantaged individuals in your community?
Shore House is a family. Not all of our members have other family or are on good terms with their families outside of Shore House. Therefore, it is very important that we celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas on the actual days. In my opinion, if there is only one member who would have nowhere else to go this Christmas, that would be reason enough to have our annual celebration.
This time of year can be very difficult and depressing—especially if you have a mental illness to begin with. Feeling isolated while others bask in the warmth of family and friends doesn’t help.
One of the main reasons Shore House celebrates holidays is to provide members with a positive alternative to isolation. We at Shore House promote unity and camaraderie during the holidays as well as during the rest of the year. We invite members to celebrate with us so no one has to be alone during times where people come together and enjoy each other’s company. Holidays are an important time for individuals to connect with one another and enjoy the festivities each holiday brings.
Spending holidays with each other also serves to increase socialization amongst members, staff, interns and board members. The holidays are times where we unwind with each other and strengthen the bond that we have created. This is a priceless gift better than anything that can be bought in a store.
Shore House wishes everyone happy holidays!
It is crucial for everyone to participate in self-care. It is difficult enough to cope with mental illness, but also having to cope with diabetes can be overwhelming if you do not know what steps to take. On Tuesday, December 2nd, a delightful guest came to the clubhouse. Her name is Alicia and she is a representative of Shore Nutrition & Wellness located in Shrewsbury, NJ. Since there are members that are either pre-diabetic or diabetic, we thought this was helpful for the Shore House community.
One Shore House member, in particular, has diabetes. Darin was told that he had diabetes when he was 17 years old. He expressed that he was shocked and in denial. This caused stress dealing not only with a mental illness, but now also diabetes. According to him, luckily, he only had type 2 diabetes, which is less threatening in his eyes. For those who are not familiar, type 2 diabetes:
Another member, Kerri, has pre-diabetes. Kerri found out a few months ago that she is pre-diabetic. Most people who run the risk of diabetes don’t know they were pre-diabetic until it’s too late. Kerri’s doctor screens her for diabetes since some of her medications run the risk of causing it. Besides exercise and losing weight, she wants to change her eating habits.
She thought artificial sweeteners were better than table sugar, which are used in many products. She didn’t know that there are some things that artificial sweeteners do to our bodies. Some of the things artificial sweeteners (or sugar substitute) can cause are: headaches, dizziness, insomnia, memory loss, joint pain, edema or swelling, and increased appetite.
Alicia said Stevia is a better way to go if you don’t want to use sugar or artificial sweeteners because of the health problems they cause. If you didn’t know, Stevia comes from a plant. Like artificial sweeteners, it is sweeter than table sugar so a little goes a long way. She suggests that liquid Stevia is good to buy. Only one drop of it can be used to sweeten tea or coffee.
As a result, Kerri plans to get the liquid Stevia and start lowering the use of artificial sweeteners to see how it helps her overall physical health.
By Alicia coming to the clubhouse, it posed as a reminder of what members should continue to do in regards of their condition. It also motivates them to spread the word to others with diabetes and help them live a healthier life.
For more information, do not hesitate to check out Alicia’s website: http://www.shorenutritionandwellness.com
On Wednesday December 2, 2015 once again a mass shooting took place, this time in San Bernardino, California. Before the dust even settled, both sides of the gun control issue came out swinging. Proponents of gun control advocated adding those on the no fly list to be barred from purchasing guns. Those who oppose more gun control measures conveniently blamed the mentally ill. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan commented that one common theme among many mass shootings is mental illness and there shouldn’t be a rush to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. We would like to dispel this myth.
America’s Love Affair with Guns
No other developed country in the world has anywhere near the same gun violence as America. The U.S. has nearly 6 times the gun homicide rate as Canada, more than 7 times as Sweden and 16 times as Germany. The U.S. has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Americans make up 4.43% of the world’s population yet own roughly 42% of all the world’s privately held firearms.
After every single mass shooting there’s a call for more gun control. Opponents claim the government is trying to take away their guns. They argue that these shootings would happen less often if even more people had guns. This is simply not true, more guns mean more death. Furthermore, multiple simulations have shown that most people, if placed in an active shooter situation may actually get killed themselves.
Myth that Mental Illness causes Gun Violence
Another factor used to explain gun violence is mental illness. This is simply not the case. People with mental illness are more likely to be victims not perpetrators of violence. Statistics show fewer than 5% of gun-related killings in the U.S. between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people diagnosed with mental illness. The idea that mental illness causes gun violence stereotypes a vast and diverse population diagnosed with psychiatric conditions and oversimplifies links between violence and mental illness. Better predictors of gun violence are substance abuse, poverty, history of violence and access to guns.
Psychiatric Diagnosis can Predict Gun Violence
Legislation in a number of states mandates that psychiatrists assess their patients for the potential to commit violent gun crime. There is actually very little evidence to support the predictive value of psychiatric diagnosis concerning gun violence. Perhaps psychiatric expertise might be put to better use by increasing conversation about stigma and what makes people fear each other in the first place. Psychiatry could join with community resources to address issues that create stigma.
Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. Until an effort is made to look at all the facts and not just blame one population, gun violence will continue to escalate. Our mission at Shore House is to reduce stigma and discrimination through education and community outreach. We invite you to do the same.
Lopez, G. (December 6th, 2015). America’s gun problem, explained. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2015/10/3/9444417/gun-violence-united-states-america
Metzel, J. M. & MacLeish, K. T. (February 2015). Mental illness, mass shootings, and the politics of American firearms. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318286/
When I received a call from Shore House in early 2014, I thought it may be just another fluke in my job search. As a new graduate moving from Boston I was getting more discouraged by the minute by not having made the next step into adulthood and securing a job. As any interviewee does, I researched Shore House before my interview and quickly found myself more passionate than ever before about a position. I watched Youtube videos about the Clubhouse Model put out by Clubhouse International, looked at pictures on the Shore House Facebook page, and even drove through Long Branch to try and get a look at the building before my interview. (FYI – you’re in the right place if you see the Municipal Court on the first floor!)
I thought the hardest interviews I’d been on were the jobs I wasn’t offered, but boy, was I wrong. As I made it up the elevator, I met two members outside who bluntly asked, “Are you the one who wants the job?” I realized I must be looking extra timid and confidently said yes, that was me. It could only get easier from here, right? Well, no. As I sat around a table with Shore House members my heart began to beat faster and faster, and my face was as red as a cherry with every question they threw my way. Then instantly, after Sherone admitting she’d asked me a trick question and Julie saying she loved my hair (she’s always the best at giving compliments!), I felt at ease. These members were not here to intimidate me (although, they all get an A+ for that), they generally wanted to get to know me and see if I was a good fit for the community. I left that day thinking wow, how lucky everyone is to have each other here.
The voicemail from members I received a few weeks later is one I will never delete. I did it, I was the newest addition to the Shore House community. My first few days were a telltale sign of the adventures to come. Dan brought me to the Community Garden (where we proceeded to plant in the wrong plot – oops!), Taylor taught me how to knit a scarf, Frank showed me the right way to make coffee (one scoop, full pot of water), Christian wowed me with his courage while speaking about his recovery at a fundraiser, Kerri taught me how to do attendance statistics, Lucile helped me field calls in reception, everyone convinced me I had to clean the bathroom as the newbie… Despite the last one, I knew Shore House was the place for me. Relationships here are built on working and problem-solving together, laughing at and learning from the mistakes we make and realizing they are OK, and growing together as individuals and a whole. No day at Shore House is ever predictable, and generally that is pretty nerve-wracking, but when you're among a group of people rooting for your success and helping you along the way it is nothing short of amazing.
As I reflect on my time with Shore House, I still have that same thought I did on my interview: wow, how lucky everyone is to have each other here. Shore House is a community, a support system, a network of friends, and a family. The role I’ve played here pales in comparison to the wealth of knowledge and experiences the members have given me... Even as they all convince me to clean the bathroom because I'll never be doing it again. Leaving Shore House I can confidently say I am a better person, and I hope all current and future members one day reflect and think the same for themselves too on their journey through recovery. Thank you everyone for being such wonderful colleagues, teachers, storytellers, and friends. I am proud to be a part of Shore House and look forward to seeing the community continue to succeed and flourish.
By Jennifer Kline, Social Worker Generalist
On the evening of Tuesday, November 10th, I was knitting and watching “Jeopardy” with family after dinner.
The answer for the movie Black Swan was “ballerina goes bonkers.” I couldn’t believe my ears (or eyes). As if I weren’t stunned enough, when I said that the clue was offensive, my feelings were disregarded as unreasonable.
“It’s just alliteration,” one person said, “Why are you making a big deal out of it?”
“Because she was ill,” I replied, “not ‘bonkers.’”
Be honest with yourself: how many times have you uttered words or phrases steeped in stigma without even thinking about it? A lot of those words and phrases probably have to do with mental illness.
“Your hair looks crazy!”
“The store was having a sale, so we went a little nuts.”
“Don’t pay any attention to him; he’s insane!”
Seemingly harmless statements, certainly with no intentional malice, but do these words hurt people living with a mental illness? Of course, they do, if indirectly. Every time one of these phrases or words is given life, people become a little more desensitized to what mental illness really is. Words like these make many people living with a mental illness afraid to step out of the shadows and admit that they have a mental illness. While cancer survivors are willing to stand and be counted, most of us hide, even though fighting our illnesses takes just as much strength and resilience. Why is that?
Some say the media is to blame, but I believe that our small steps (in whichever direction) can help to turn the tide. It wasn’t so very long ago that it was common to refer to people with developmental disabilities as “retards.” Why can’t those of us living with mental illness expect the same courtesy: the retiring of hurtful words? I know that’s a big ask that will take a long time, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
As for what mental illness really is… it is not necessarily the perpetrator of every massacre in a school, movie theater or city street. We’re only quick to label the perpetrator “crazy” because his or her actions are irrational and we need a context in which to understand them. Real mental illness is a beloved family member who has bipolar disorder, your friendly postal carrier who suffers from depression, maybe even you. And, of course, me. And I’m not crazy.
by Sherone Rogers
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.