Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Planting The Seed

Many of you may know that I am working to establish a Foundation to benefit the lives of young women in their search for their Sense of Self.  Essentially, I want to improve the overall wellness of young women so that they may break the cycle of negative self talk.  Our society breeds negative self talk in our media, family units, and social circles--I could do an entire blog on that subject and probably will very soon.

In the mean time, I have been doing some research on foundations and nonprofit organizations.  I have figured out that I want to initially develop a privately funded foundation that will provide scholarships to women who are working to improve and further develop their Sense of Self.  I can easily tap into my Sorority to get started and begin to fund women who are working within our organization.  Not to mention, college is a time where pressure and stress can often reach a breaking point, and I feel that this foundation could foster motivation and essentially help to fulfill the mission (which I have yet to develop and will discuss with you in the near future). 

Once I have successfully developed this foundation, I intend to slowly step into the world of a publicly funded nonprofit organization complete with programming and counseling services for young women and families.  That would be in the 10-15 year plan once I have my PhD and some money ;)

So here is my timeline/list, and something to hold me accountable:

  • Create a name for my foundation--I have essentially come up with this and will play with it a little more here and there
  • Obtain the correct paperwork and materials to submit to the government--hopefully my lawyer friends can hook a sister up with some legal advice *wink wink*
  • Complete and file with enough time to create the foundation for the 2011 year so that I can work towards delivering my first scholarship to a woman for the beginning of the 2011 academic year.
Ideally I would like the foundation to fund a scholarship for four women each at a different point in their formal education.  Therefore the mission would translate across all ages of the late teens and early twenties therefore benefiting a wide range of women who can set an example for their peers = creating a new cycle.

I am listing my resources below just in case anyone else in considering starting their own foundation or a public nonprofit and just for a general FYI.  I for sure did not realize exactly what the differences were, and that it really comes down to a government distinction and semantics.  Enjoy!


Nonprofit is a tax status not a philosophy
Drawbacks in starting a nonprofit organization
Foundation Center

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Did It On Purpose!

I figured that I would update before the weekend because I am returning to Gainesville, FL to attend some events and have a good ol' fashioned time.  I am an active member of a sorority, and some very important changes will be occurring this weekend.

Upon working to spread the word about these events and recruit more women to participate, I became frustrated with the different commitment levels amongst the membership.  Now, granted I am a "diamond in the ruff", a member who is far more involved than most alumnae members ever wanted to be.  However, I think that fact more than fits me as a person.  I am a driven person who more often than not becomes the commitments that I have made.

We all make promises and vow our loyalty to various things in our lives.  What within us changes that impacts our level of involvement?  At one time or another these commitments were our identity: marriage, clubs, sports, politics, etc...

I think it equates itself to a failing marriage or a losing season.  Something within you changed, your priorities changed, your life circumstance changed.  Whatever it was, it happened, and now what?  Do you yearn  for something to replace it?  Are you relieved that you no longer have to "deal with it"?  Whatever the reason for leaving, and the whatever the result of that change, have you taken the time to fulfill your life in another way?

We are loyal to the things in life that nurture us, that flatter us, and more importantly give us a purpose.  My involvement with the sorority gives me purpose.  I want to serve as a positive role model for those young women as they navigate young adulthood.  I want to serve as their advocate when the world challenges them.  I want to foster their personal growth and help them to develop a healthy Sense of Self.

Identifying your purpose serves as a motivator for you to become involved in the world, in our society, and on your own journey to discover your Sense of Self.  If you don't feel like you have a purpose in your current life, I would invite you to really take a moment to reflect on the best times and worst times in your life.  Where were you?  What were you doing and who was there?  Did the experience have a positive or negative impact on you, and what would you have done differently to create the most ideal result?

Find your passion,  or for some the place where you can just simply feel safe with yourself.  Keep this place sacred for you and you alone in order to work on finding a genuine purpose, one that you can continue to remain loyal to, one that give just as much back to you as you give to it.  Find wellness.  Find Peace.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did You Know?

Did you know that this month has so much more going on that Halloween and football?  October is National Disability Awareness Month.  For the entire month, various organizations work to educate the public about the issues facing individuals with disabilities.

It has been twenty years since the Americans with Disabilities Act has been passed, and believe it or not there are still barriers that must be overcome.  Many of the barriers that exist wouldn't necessarily cross the minds of most employers who have yet to explore applicants who may need accommodations.  But just for reference, we are talking about: accessible buildings (can you believe that not all public buildings are fully accessible?), non-negotiable essential job duties--employers unwilling to modify or redistribute some of the tasks for a certain job, inability to modify office space and equipment to compliment the needs to each employee, and corporate culture.

The reason I think that it is important to touch upon this topic is just to:
  • bring light to the topic
  • educate my readers on the different types of barriers
  • offer a new outlook on the stigmas that exist
Most people in society think of disabilities as the physical result of some form of trauma or developmental difficulty, but clearly there are so many other forms that remain to be seen-at least at first glance. For example,  a visually impaired individual would need accommodations to improve their viewing ability on the job such as magnifiers or large print or perhaps a simple software program that allows the employee to dictate and listen to emails.   Aside from visual impairments: mental illness, learning disabilities, and hearing loss or difficulty can also impact the company environment. 

What the issue tends to be is that employers are nervous about hiring individuals who disclose their disability because of their own perceptions and worries.  How much will I have to spend to provide these accommodations?  What are the liabilities that come along with hiring this person?  How much attention will I have to give to this employee to make sure that they are doing their job correctly?  Many of these concerns stem from a simple lack of education about the various disabilities that exist, and the only way to change that is to advocate and inform.

I am attaching an article about paralyzed veterans to shed light on the growing population of citizens who will need accommodations and should be given the same opportunities now as they had before they served our country-"Here today, gone tomorrow" rings true in this case in more ways than one.  I find it fascinating that we have to develop programming within our military to improve the chance of a positive vocational outcome for these veterans.  The article is more of just a "for your information" article that sheds a positive light on their efforts to improve our economy.

All Americans deserve the right to work and contribute to this country.  Could part of the unemployment crisis could be due to the fact that many employers are unwilling to consider or inadvertently dismissing qualified applicants?  Think it over.

Vocational Programming For Veterans

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's Your View?!

This morning while attempting to complete the 1000 piece puzzle on the dining room table (life of the unemployed), I heard a ruckus coming from the tv.  I have a list of shows that I turn on each morning for news, entertainment, and to really stimulate my brain.  During The View, some thing happened.  Words flew in both directions from the hosts and guest Bill O'Reilly.

If any of you know anything about the show, you are not surprised that most of the hosts did not agree with him on 99% of his points.  There is a strong presence on that show of a democratic belief system, and Bill O'Reilly is the antithesis of liberal politics.  Needless to say, he made an extreme statement in the heat of the moment prompting two hosts to walk off the stage in rage. 

What I want to know is: How do you know why you believe in what you do if you can not challenge those beliefs in a rational way?  Bill O'Reilly was in the hot seat and handled himself far better than the hosts of the show showing me, the observant counselor type, that he was comfortable and confident in his take on the topic.  Now granted he did make some very extreme statements, and perhaps thought twice before speaking further, but he did not let his other opinions go unheard. 

I like listening to both sides of an argument because for the most part each side has their own exaggerated opinon, and you find the actual truth somewhere in between.  My job as a counselor is to listen and facilitate healthy discussion and expression.  And truthfully, I would rather just enjoy a nice BLT and a beer while everyone else dukes it out.  I am not a competitive person either, and I think that helps with me not having to "get the win"...we'll discuss that later.

The reason I wanted to address this topic is because I wanted to challenge you to take a look at how you handle your political conversations.  When speaking about "sense of self" like we have before, can you really know what you truly believe if you don't even know who you are and why?  Why is it that you actually believe what you do?  Do you share the same view as your family, or has your generation acculturated you into the opposite view out of the need to be different and foster change?  Do you choose peers who challenge you, or a circle that simply you know you can get along with?

I often wonder where the notion of "scream louder and you will be heard" comes from?  My thought is that if you are arguing and trying to win for the sake of "being right" and your opponent is doing the same, the actual content is falling on deaf ears and then what?!  Neither of you were successful, and now you are both more likely hold some kind of animosity, because lets face it you don't really let it go--who would?!  It is not in our nature to do so, hence the reason why we have political parties and terrible political adds every year that attack and smear for the sake of the win.

Behavioral Therapy is a general term for the most popular theories of counseling used today.  We all have irrational thoughts that lead to behaviors as an expression of the disturbances in our mind.  We live under these "musts" and behave in ways in order to meet our needs.
  • I must do well enough to gain the approval of others.
  • I must be treated by others the way I think I should be treated, otherwise they are no good and must be punished or condemned.
  • I must get what I want when I want it, and if I don't, it's terrible.
So if blaming others is at the core of these disturbances, how the heck can we have a real relationship?  You will never be 100% satisfied if you live beneath the "musts", "shoulds", demands and commands.  That is so much pressure which then leads to your anxieties, depression, anger, and flat out dismissal of reality as we saw today on the show.  By this theory, whether or not you agree with Bill O'Reilly politically, it is fair to say that he is more rational in his behavior when compared to the hosts of the show.  He won today, because he didn't come there to win.  He stated his opinion with passion yes, but he also stood his ground.  The other opinion left the stage and was not heard from for minutes.  Its like playing a man down-often not in the team's favor.  

I challenge you to really examine your behavior in a recent heated conversation.  What about that conversation was not satisfying to you?  How did you behave irrationally as a result--yell, scream, walk away, ignore, blame?  How can you benefit from actually listening, without forming a response, to the other person?  Understanding why another person feels the way they do, will challenge your mind to do the same.  It is then that you build the foundation for your belief system, based on your ethics, your opinions, and your feelings as a result of hearing what they had to say whether you agree or not. 

Leave the "shoulds" and "musts" behind and you will win without even trying.

This is the link to an article about the show with a video clip.  Enjoy!

It's Their View or No View

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Not Policitcal But...

I think that it goes without saying most of your friends know your political views, or at least if you are interested in politics.  There are arguments both ways as to whether or not you should actually discuss issues in a social setting.

I line with Mental Illness Awareness Week, some changes in our laws have become a focal point of the movement to integrate treatments into medical care.  In an article by Michelle Andrews, New Laws Expand Mental Health, Addiction Treatment,  the current and future changes are highlighted.  In short, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Treatment Act just took effect this year and puts mental health and addiction treatment coverage on the same playing field as medical/surgical needs. 

Before this year, insurance plans would typically: limit your therapy visits, increase your deductible, and change your co-payment.  Even with the new law, an insurance plan is not mandated to even provide a plan of care for mental health or addictions, nor does the new law apply to companies with 50 or fewer employees.  Basically, if your plan offers this type of care, it has to offer equivalent coverage for mental health and addiction treatments as it would for medical/surgical care.  However, keep in mind that the insurance company can choose which disorders they are willing to cover.

With the health care changes happening in the next few years, the plan is to provide coverage to those small business and to also streamline the plans that offer mental health and addiction treatment.  What roadblocks can you foresee coming about?  Some of the blocks that come to my mind are:
  • Along the lines of preventable disease:  Is addiction a disease?  Who should decide?  Is mental health a medical condition?  Should it be covered by medical insurance?
  • Pre-existing conditions: Should insurance cover the treatment of mental illnesses deemed a pre-existing condition?
  • Children: A child born with addictions or a mental illness will likely receive treatment under the insurance plan of their caretaker or the government.  What should happen to their care when they reach adulthood?
  • Scope of disorders:  What body should determine the scope of coverage?  Should the government compile a list of disorders or should it be up to the insurance company?  Should the DSM-IV TR or the newly revised version in 2013 be involved in the identification "insuarable conditions" or should we consider prevalent and "treatable conditions" only?
I am positive there are so many more issues that will arise in the coming years, and it is then that we can decide whether or not to elect candidates who have the same views and value systems as yourself.  In terms of my future non-profit, would lack of care even be an issue by the time it is up and running?  2014 is just around the corner and these changes will impact the services I will provide to my community.

I'm no political but...I would hope that you are willing to really examine the changes that are happening, and become educated enough to truly understand the impact of your vote on these issues.  Mental Illness is not something we can always predict, prevent, or fully recover from.  It is a struggle for many Americans as a result of many different environmental factors: disease, socialization, genetics, etc.  This week leads us into the heart of this years political season, and is just another reason to actually find out what your favorite candidate thinks.  Mental illness does not discriminate, and when or if ever you need treatment, I hope that you are all able to maximize your care.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is It The Chicken or The Egg?

It is safe to say that most people would agree with this statement:

"The self is a function of its environment."

This can go a few different ways.  First, the environment that creates the mold for the child, thus creating a predictable product.  For example, a child of an alcoholic indulges in their substance of choice and becomes an addict.  Second, the environment is perceived by the child as being so unfavorable that they become the exact opposite and "break the mold".  Along with the first example, the child rarely consumes any alcohol in order to prevent a similar lifestyle of addiction.  Lastly, we find a combination of the two.  Growing up in a home environment with pressure to be one thing or the other in order to satiate the "social norm" of the family.  This is where we find most children.  

Our culture is moving in many directions, and one that has always fascinated me was the pressures on our society to look a certain way.  In the 80s, we saw the birth of fitness.  Aerobics classes were the norm for all adults, especially women, and a community of fitness was born strip malls all over America.  Into the 90s we saw a change in men focusing more and more on achieving that buff/chiseled look Arnold Schwarzenegger style.  Us women, we still attended our classes, but began to discover the world outside Jane Fonda.  The millennium has brought to us many new ideas about what you can do to look the way "we" think you should.  Gyms are still popular, extreme sports have come into play, and a spiritual side of health via yoga and pilates has really become the norm for many.  

What is scary is that many young adults and teens do not prioritize fitness, though they want to still look as though they do.  Yes, many children and teenagers are involved in some type of sport, and yes you can exercise without joining a gym--there are a million exceptions to every claim.  Generally speaking though, many young Americans are just trying to survive their life.  They have school, the media, friends, and their family to balance all at once and frankly in most cases each is pulling them in a different direction.  How to they cope?  Do they become the mold, break the mold, or crack somewhere in between?

The attached article is about the family impact on anorexic teenagers.  These teens are working to achieve a physical likeness at the expense of their own health.  How do they even know this is what is "desirable"?  The media is an easy answer, and one of the most often used excuses in my opinion.  Do the parents themselves work to achieve this same physical likeness and therefore apply pressure to the child creating a seemingly impossible goal, or are the parents so far in the opposite direction (our country's growing obese population) that the child wants nothing more than to not look like that?  Is the child somewhere in between with supportive parents who can not identify with the pressures the child is facing outside of the home during this hormonally charged time?  

The study found that when families participated in recovery, the changes for a more solidified outcome were much increased.  I think that regardless of where the foundation for the behavior came from, a supportive and involved environment (preferably the home environment) with reduced pressures is ideal for recovery.  A stable home is not always possible, but if you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, become their "family" and share in their life.  Work with them and hopefully with their treatment program to find out where their illness stems from, and support them in building a new foundation based on their own "sense of self".  And if you yourself struggle in any way, I invite you to ask yourself:

  • What pressures do I feel from my family, friends, the media, work, school, etc.?
  • What behaviors do I engage in daily that give in to these pressures?
  • How do I really view myself outside of what others may say?
 Please take some time to read the article and examine your thoughts and feelings.  Do we make our decisions as a function of our environment (the Chicken), or do we decide independently to appease the self (the Egg)?  Start with what you like about your self, write it down, and put it somewhere where you can see it.  Add to this list whenever you feel like it, or discover something new that compliments your "Sense of Self".


Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week! Who knew?!

The first full week in October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Established by our Congress in 1990, this week sheds light on the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Otherwise known as NAMI, each state organization is encouraged to step up their efforts to achieve the NAMI mission which is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

I will have to be honest here and say that I did not have this even marked down on my calendar. However, that is not to say that I will not finish this post and add it to my planner pages so that I can remember it when I make my annual agenda information transfer at the end of the year.

NAMI has a number of options for you in order to help them achieve their mission:

  • If you are a political person, NAMI has non-partisan election themes that can be found here: Election

  • If you are religious, this Thursday is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery

  • If you aren't political or religious you can still bring awareness to the cause. NAMI offers various downloads on their site offering activities and PR.

  • A documentary has also been filmed and will air on PBS stations. "Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia" was aired at the 2010 NAMI convention, and is currently being used to educate its viewers on the subject.

So what does all of this actually do for you? My goal is to introduce you to an organization and a cause that is becoming more and more popular in our society as the years go by. An article by DJ Jaffe discusses the issue of stigma as it relates to mental illness. The article is more of food for thought to coincide with this week. It can be found here: MIAW Diverts Attention from Serious Mental Illness

I encourage you to read it and at least think about the stigmas you have, if any, about mental illness. Where do they stem from? What limits you from educating yourself about the topic? What barriers are there in your environment to further your feelings about mental illness? How has the incidence of mental illness in your personal life impacted the way you feel about diagnosed individuals?