February 28, 2023


Blessings of Lived Experience with Mental Health Distress, Flourishing: A Conversation With Karl Shallowhorn

Hosted by

Joel David Lesses
Blessings of Lived Experience with Mental Health Distress, Flourishing: A Conversation With Karl Shallowhorn
Unraveling Religion
Blessings of Lived Experience with Mental Health Distress, Flourishing: A Conversation With Karl Shallowhorn

Feb 28 2023 | 00:38:07


Show Notes

Karl Shallowhorn and Joel talk about lived experience with mental health distress, the different ways to improve the quality of life for people with mental health distress, Karl's own history and biography, personally and professionally, with lived experience. Karl and Joel explore the importance of peer to peer connection not just for people with mental health distress, but its importance for all people to see what is shared, what we have in common, our shared human condition. Together Karl and Joel share personal and professional history and hopes for our collective future. Karl wears many hats, working at Mental Health Advocates as Director of Youth Programs, Karl Shallowhorn Consulting, he also has his own radio program dedicated to discussing the relationship music has with mental health ‘Mental Health Verses’. Thursday, 03/02/2023, 7:00 Karl presents Mental Health Verses: Live, a multi-media talk based on his 91.3 FM WBNY radio program of the same name. For tickets to attend or support, please click here: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mhaoeci/event/mentalhealthverses/



Mental health advocate, educator, speaker and coach, Karl Shallowhorn, has a proven track record of delivering engaging and informative presentations to wide-ranging audiences across the United States. His combination of lived experience and clinical expertise makes him a unique resource. Karl is the author of Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health, Leadership Through the Lens of the 12 Steps and is the creator of a Mastermind course based on the 12 Step Leadership concept. He has been a featured blogger and writer for BP magazine. Karl has received numerous awards for his work in the mental health field including from the National Federation of Just Communities and the Buffalo Association of Black Social Workers. He has also been selected as a presenter for TedX Buffalo 2021 with his topic being, “African American Men and Mental Health: Crisis or Opportunity.” Karl is a much sought-after speaker and a member of the Black Speakers Network, He is the host of a Facebook Live public affairs and health program sponsored by the Community Health Center of Buffalo. As a person in long-term recovery from bipolar and co-occurring addiction disorder, Karl’s goal is to help people discover their unmet potential and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. He has educated diverse audiences, including behavioral health providers, law enforcement, youth, educators, veterans and faith communities, among others.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello and welcome to yet another installment of Unraveling Religion. My name is Joel Lesses, and I'm here with a good friend and, uh, both personally and professionally, Carl Shehorn. Carl, how are you today? Speaker 1 00:00:14 That's, uh, you asked me this earlier and I said, as I've been saying last few days, that's a very interesting question. It it, it depends on what you ask. Yeah. There's a lot of things going on in my life right now, professionally, personally, intimately with friends, and even within my own journey. Um, so moment to moment, I could be, you know, doing okay. The next moment I could be shedding tears. Um, right now I'm okay. I'm, I'm facing some things with a dear friend who is, um, facing a terminal illness. And it's, uh, certainly, well, it was diagnosed back, you know, the, the brain tumor was diagnosed in October of last year. And, uh, then, you know, as we know, you kind of walk along the journey with someone. It has been, it has taught me a lot as much as anything how try to be a friend to accompany someone on a journey of uncertainty. Speaker 0 00:01:05 Yeah. Well, I'll tell you, I really feel Carl, that the most important skill we will ever cultivate as a human being will be that very thing how to be a friend. Could you give a little background? How would you like to describe yourself? Like what do you do? How do you think of yourself? Uh, what, how do you spend your, your time? Speaker 1 00:01:23 I'm a husband of 28 years. I'm a father of two adult daughters. They're the proudest thing I have in my life. Wonderful young women who have grown up doing well. That's, that's the best thing that America want. I am a, pretty much a lifelong member of the United Church Christ, uh, not, you know, denomination. I, I took as I like to say, a seven year, uh, journey into the wilderness in my late teens and twenties, as many people do to explore other areas. But I got into long term. I got into, uh, 12 step recovery at the age of 25, and that's really when things, my life changed, really for the better. And within a couple years of getting clean, I went back to school. I, I'd managed to get my bachelor's degree in broadcasting, but I went back to school and took courses for counseling. Speaker 1 00:02:10 And then, um, that's where everything took off. I became a counselor at hospital. I lived with bipolar disorder, and I had another manic episode. My wife was pregnant and so forth. It was a turn my life upside down. But as a result of that, having worked as a counselor, I decided I wanted to lead the profession. So I got my master's degree and worked in higher ed for 12 years. But in, of course, that time I realized that my real calling was in the world of really mental health as we kind of called it then. So, um, around 2007, 2008, I decided to just tell my story. First place. First place I did was my church. I, I told my story at my church. Yeah. Cause I remember I went to my pastor, uh, his name was Bruce McKay, you know, he's a former pastor. And I went to my, I said, Bruce, I said, I just want, I just wanna share my story that recovery's possible. I just wanted to let people know about recovery. Cause by that time, I've been clean for a while. I've been, been, you know, stable mentally, emotionally, uh, and, and, you know, not that I was the only one, but at that time, a lot of people, I mean, even then, I mean, especially two eight, many people were still not talking about this stuff publicly. Speaker 0 00:03:10 So many people and community don't even realize, not just that recovery's possible, but it inverts That seems like symptoms and distress and pathology are actually gifts and Speaker 1 00:03:22 Blessings. Well, and that's the thing too. I mean, it's like taking what could be considered, uh, negative, turning a positive, you know? Um, I was able to take my life experience as someone who has addicted and, and live with a oldest daughter, go along my recovery journey and then help others. This is what I've done since then. So, I currently work at Mental Health Advocates in West New York. I'm the director of youth programs. I supervise a team of young people, youth peer advocates, as they're called, who have lived experience, and they're phenomenal. I, I consider 'em be like my children. They get even age wise, but they're like my kids. And, and, but I get a chance to mentor them. I get a chance to, you know, uh, work with them and help 'em become professionals, but also watch 'em grow. And that's the greatest privilege, is to watch them grow as, as young people and mature and do things that, frankly, Joel, as I say, goes, when I was their age, I couldn't done that stuff. I couldn't have handled it. They're amazing. Speaker 0 00:04:12 You know, you and I, we go back a little ways with the, the Mental Health Association Now, mental health advocates. We were both serving on the board of directors at that time, more or less, a little intermittently, but we've a parallel journey. Right. Your recovery, the m HHAs role in that, and sort of where you see it now, how did that happen for you? Maybe other people are curious. You know, Speaker 1 00:04:36 I work at Damon College now, Damon University. Uh, you know, I spent 12 years in higher education, and around 2008 or so is when I got, as I say, my calling, if you wanna call it that, to jump back into behavioral health. I, I wrote an article that was in the paper when Britney Spears was in the news and kind of outed myself as having bipolar disorder and First Damon Small Campus. Nobody knew. And that was a clear risk. That turned out to be positive because I ended up leaving Damon. I went to Horizon Health Services as a counselor for three and a half years. I was able to fall back on my previous experience. And then I got to a point at Horizon where I wanted to be, as I said, an advocate. I wanted to be on the public. I wanted to speak, I wanted to promote mental health. Speaker 1 00:05:17 And, and nothing against Horizon or where agencies were at the time, they're a different place now. Interesting enough. But at the time, it was a message, well, we can't bill for that <laugh>, you know, I mean, that's how it was back then. That's how it was. You have to build for services. You can't build for someone going, but they do it now, though. They do it now. So I left there and I went briefly to a local home healthcare agency that was a service coordinator. That was not what I wanted to be doing. But I was on the board for the M hha, and I also knew Michelle Brown from Compere. And so I connected with them. And through a series of conversations, I ended up getting a job at the mha, uh, as director of, uh, community advocacy. That was 2014. And that sort of things really began to sort of develop, I got a lot of cool opportunities to sue, do some administrative work. Speaker 1 00:06:03 I got a chance to do even some, some media stuff. Like sometimes we get media inquiries. So when Ken Housen, who was the executive director wasn't available, sometimes I would step in and do some things. I I did definitely got a chance to network and meet people. So it just gimme a chance to grow and do things that I probably would never have had a chance to otherwise. You know, I, what I often, I do, uh, talk about my experience. I do offer my diagnosis, but that also goes along with my professional role as a writer and a blogger. So, I was a blogger for Bipolar Magazine, which Kim comes with published outta Buffalo. Joanne Do is published. I met Joanne many years ago, so I had blog for them for many years. But then this past summer, the day after I got back from vacation, I got an email from the editors asking if I wanna be a columnist. I'm now a columnist for bp. And I also know, and I know some people are protective of, uh, bring their diagnosis. Cause in the end, honestly, Joel, like you and I both know, it's a label. It's something the insurance companies Speaker 0 00:06:57 Use. Uh, psychiatry is much more an art than it is a science. So, Speaker 1 00:07:02 Totally. Even though I know, I mean, there's, there's commonalities. I mean, if you look at, if you look at DSM or diagnostics manual, the, the, the so-called Bible of, of mental health, you know, conditions. I mean, so many these, these conditions have, uh, similar symptoms, you know, like anxiety and, and depression. It could be a lack of concentration. When you go to see a professional, it's all subjective, right? You can't take, you know, I mean, there is some research to brain scan, but really you can't take a blood test. You Speaker 0 00:07:33 Really, you've been such a generous, uh, force mm-hmm. <affirmative> that you did a TEDx Buffalo talk. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I'm wondering if you could speak a little bit about that. What was that? What, I know the topic. I watched it, but maybe you could talk a little bit about it. Speaker 1 00:07:47 Oh, well, first of all, let me just say that day that I did it, um, I've had a lot of stressful experiences in my life that was a single most stressful day I've ever had in my life here. Like, in the moment, I'll coming down at once because of a number of things. I mean, um, the circumstances at that time where, uh, we were preparing for a move at my house. So I was simultaneously clearing out a room, trying to do last minute cramming to remember my, my talk, which is all has to be memorized. And then dealing with a situation for another organization I was working with. There's things going chaotic there, and it was just all this stuff coming down at one. And then I had to go stand in front of like a hundred people, uh, you know, on a stage with a clock <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:08:27 So, all right. So, so the deal is, um, I, yeah, I had to apply. Um, and, you know, so the process you apply, you give it too much pitch studio, I found out on Father's Day, um, what that 2020, um, whatever date was, um, that I've been accepted, gain anxiety. I had so much anxiety going into this thing. At one point, Joel, I even said, I didn't wanna do it to my coaches. Cause you have coaches that help you. Sure. I said, I don't wanna do this. I'm gonna freeze. I'm gonna go up on that stage. I'm gonna blank and I wanna do it. They said, well, think about it. It, you know, just think about it. So I've talked couple people, my therap, my former therapist, Joel said, Harold, I've said to you to do two things. Take your medication and, and don't stop your therapy. Speaker 1 00:09:06 But I'm telling you, you have to do this talk <laugh>. So I, I decided to do it. So that night, I went up there and, uh, you know, got on the stage and, uh, I had prepared so much mm-hmm. <affirmative> so much. So I'm going, going through it, and then I get to the place where I skipped the line, you know, and this is like muscle memory here, right? So I skipped the line, and, and I stopped, and I went back to try to catch myself, okay, what did I remember? What did I forget? And I blanked out on stage in front of a hundred people. Yeah. I couldn't see with, with, with lights glaring on me with, with cameras. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm standing there, I'm going like, oh, crap. You know, I said, for my first time, like, I just like, oh shit. And I, you know, and then what they tell you is, don't move because they can edit. Speaker 1 00:09:54 Yeah. So I sit there and I just had my hands in front of me, like, like, like folded. And I just kinda looked down and I, and I swear, you know, they talk about like, time passing slowly. I lost all track of time. Yeah, yeah. Um, I think it ended up being like, almost 30 seconds. Yeah. So imagine being on stage for 30 with nothing. And you could, you couldn't hear a peep, right? It's like, it's like, almost like I felt like, like everybody was collectively holding their breath. And, and mind you, I had, so I took this out. I had every single of my immediate support system with me. I had my wife, my two daughters, my best friend, my na my 12 sponsor, his wife, my mentor that I've had since been four years old. And my aunt, who's 97, my cousin. So I had like my key people there. Speaker 1 00:10:39 And then all of a sudden it comes back, wow. I pick up where I left off, and, and I'm going, and I have, I get to my last few lines and I'm rolling. I looked under the clock, it said one minute. And I said, I got this. And I finished. I said, I, I said, thank you. And then of course, thunder applause. And I walk off stage and my coach Jeff, is standing against the wall, you know? So I walk along the wall, I walk up to him and I go up to him. I go, I really pulled that one outta my ass, didn't I? <laugh>? And he, he just kinda smile. And I went and I sat down Joel in the front seat on the front row were supposed. And I said to myself, oh my God, it's over. Wow. Did it. And it was the biggest, I mean, about like a million ton weight was off my shoulders. Speaker 1 00:11:22 I finally got this thing. So it was, it is the single biggest professional conference I've ever had in my life. You know, it's like, it's like I can go anywhere and talk. Now. Most places you go, you can have notes, whatever, whatever. This is like, like naked, unsafe. So it was a true test of, I say faith, let me, lemme give a brief story. So, um, I'm into tattoos. I have all kind tattoos, <laugh>. So, um, uh, you know, with the semicolon tattoo is for survivors of, of suicide and, and supporters. So I had the semicolon for many years, but I also wanted to get, um, other additional to make it into an eye. So I can make the word faith on my wrist. That's where the, the tattoo is. So I was gonna wait until after Ted talk to get it done, but I decided to get it beforehand. As I say that Ted Talk is the Joel, the single biggest faith building experience I've ever had in my life. When, when Joel, like I said, my belief system is, is in, is in God and so forth. And I believe that, that, you know, they say God will do for you what you can't do for yourself. God got me to that moment. Yeah. I, I can't explain otherwise. I was blank. I my blame. My blame went like kaput. I can't explain other way. That's Speaker 0 00:12:30 Amazing. So that strength really strengthened your faith. But what was the title of talk? Carl? Speaker 1 00:12:34 Oh, yeah, yeah. So the talk tele talk was African-American men in mental health basis or opportunity. And as a person of color, I'm by Rachel, but I grew up, you know, black family and black culture. Um, and then certainly the thing too, Joel, is that when I applied, it was the January before George Floyd. So they accept the application till April. They made the decision. Then George Floyd happened. So the timing itself for this talk was impeccable. Cause I referenced George Floyd, you know, I, I referenced Daniel Prude from Rochester. Speaker 0 00:13:08 I know Daniel, the Daniel Prude story very well. Yeah. I was in Rochester. Speaker 1 00:13:12 I referenced that. So I talked about these things in the talk. I talked about, you know, trauma. I talked about <inaudible>. I talked about, as, you know, in the talk, I talked about the, uh, way that black men are portrayed in the media going back to Birth of a Nation, the movie. Yeah. Um, all that stuff. So I tried to tie all in and Chris talked about all the challenges that black men experience with talk. But I also talked about the opportunity where there's things being done to support black men and to offer opportunities for healing and, um, you know, ways to connect with others. So it was, it was an incredible experience. And I think, you know, ultimately, uh, just trying to share a message that I thought would be received. What Speaker 0 00:13:54 Are, what are some of the overlaps and specific, uh, challenges of black men and mental health? Speaker 1 00:14:01 It is so deep, Joel. It's so deep. It's so deep. And I meant this to my talk that it goes back, you know, before the middle passage, uh, when, when Africans were brought, brought to, uh, you know, the continents here, um, in the west, um, you know, you figure slavery itself was the first act that essentially broke down. Uh, you know, black men broke down. And even family structures, I mean, you hear about these stories about black families were separated. That was all obviously all by design. And, you know, and even today, I mean, I don't wanna go into political, but even today it happens where there's just, these systems are set up that, that are oppressive. And so, black men and mental health is so complicated. Cause in, you know, in black culture, black men are told pretty much don't show any signs of vulnerability or weakness. Speaker 1 00:14:52 You're gonna be good to be soft. I was at a 12 up meeting recently. This is also the side, and it's my home group. We have this thing called home group. You go there regularly. And, uh, I'm not gonna go off with what this guy said, but some of the fact of that, you know, in the black community, light-skinned guys are considered to be soft. Mm. In no words, skinned guys can be weak. And cause, you know, like, and I'm a light ski guy, <laugh>, you know? Um, but that, but that, yeah. And we, we all laugh because like, so like, you have to know the culture, you know, and, and we're ribbon. The guys were like, even the, you're not supposed to crosstalk. There was even crosstalk with that. Um, but, uh, so, so, cause it was funny, like the guys who actually said it, a comedian, real life, he's comedian. Speaker 1 00:15:31 So, um, but anyway, um, but, but it's true. Like, there's these things in black culture that are meant to protect men. Um, you know, and, and oftentimes, you know, uh, and it's so true that black men are so, I guess be, I dunno if the word mischaracterized or, or inappropriately characterized or there's, there's mis misconceptions, feelings. I mean, whoever would thought Black m had feelings. I, there's a TV show, um, that I highly recommend, uh, is called Atlanta. I dunno if you've heard of Atlanta with Donald Glover. Donald Glover is also Chow Gambino. The, the, the artist who the song, um, uh, this is America, which caused all the controversy several years ago. The video. Speaker 0 00:16:10 That's an incredible, Speaker 1 00:16:11 Oh God isn't an amazing video. It's Speaker 0 00:16:13 Powerful. It is so Speaker 1 00:16:14 Powerful. Yeah. That's now Glover. So he, he's uh, you know, one of the creators, producer of this show called, uh, Atlanta. And, but in the last season, he, it shows him going to therapy. So even in Thet, like in the TV series, like a black man gonna Therapy. What, what, no. That, that doesn't happen. And it show, but see, it showed, the beautiful thing is it showed what would be a real depiction. It showed him going to another black male for therapy. And, and what would be an ideal situation for all black men. While we know that in our country there's so few black providers, men or women, that, that's, I don't say impossible, but it's very, for the very few. Um, but the fact that opening up the possibility for seeking help and encouraging men even amongst themselves, Speaker 0 00:17:01 Uh, you know, we, we both share this passion for mental health. And I know that we're both, we both at least feel that we have our fingers on the pulse of thought, where thought is going trending in mental health. And I'm wondering if you could speak about, probably you're really excited about this. I would imagine if, if I had to guess the peer movement, black men in mental health. Speaker 1 00:17:24 Yeah. I knew exactly where you're going. As soon as you said the trends, cuz the trends is peers. Absolutely. Like everybody's talking about peers. Cause it's the lived experience, you know, the peer movement, believe it or not, uh, goes back as far as, well sort probably before this, but goes back to the roots of, of AA Alcoholics Anonymous. And even before that, the Oxford Group, which is what AA was formed based on it's mutual support. It's the experience of one person helping another to have a similar condition. Speaker 0 00:17:50 The beauty of peer is not one way. So like you and I are doing this right now, this is an example of the peer movement, the peer effect. Mm-hmm. We are sharing with one another. We're validating one another. We're constructively building one another up through witnessing listening and offering what wisdom we have. This, this is an example of the peer movement. Speaker 1 00:18:13 Absolutely. And, and that's the beauty. So, um, but in the behavioral health, mental health world, it really came out of like, I'd say the, the late sixties, seventies. Yeah. There was a guy, and I know, I forget his name, but he was known as Howie the Harp. You probably know the name Holly Harp. Cause he played the harmonica <laugh>. Um, and Howie, uh, was one of the first peers. And they, they really kind of created a movement in New York City of, of basically advocacy self-determination. Uh, there's a saying, nothing with us, without us. So it was a whole movement that began in the city that really evolved and grew and now is national. And, and finally, after all these years, the, the providers, the community based agencies are recognizing the value peers and bringing them into the ranks. There's certifications, selection. Where we are in New York state, there's certifications for peers. My team of youth advocates, there's certified credential protectional. Speaker 0 00:19:10 Much of my career was spent in Medicaid. Yes. So New York State, a little crash course in Medicaid. Uh, Medicaid is 75, 20 5%. So 75% of the money is allocated from the National C M s Medicaid. Nationally. New York State matches that 25% in New York state when they receive the Medicaid funds can and filter that in ways through their laws to allocate Medicaid funds or whatever they deem, uh, can be approved nationally, but specifically to New York State. And one of the things that New York State has done is that they've given a, a pretty fair rein, like a healthy reimbursement rate for peer advocates for peer specialists, which allows a sustainable livelihood. Which is vital. Vital, Speaker 1 00:19:59 Yeah. Yeah. And, and I'm glad you said sustainable livelihood. Cause that's one of the big problems is another aside, is what we're dealing with now with, uh, recruitment and retention of workforce in the healthcare, mental and behavioral healthcare and healthcare in general. Um, there's been some incentives recently and more incentives from the state to recruit behavioral health professionals of, of all kinds, but especially peers. And, you know, the beautiful thing also about a peer is you only need a high school grad, uh, education. I mean, this lived experience, you don't get that in the book. You have to go through training cuz you have to understand how important listening is. You have to understand even the, the, the whole movement. You have to understand what it means to, to offer appropriate. The bottom line is you don't learn a lot of that through your typical textbook learning or counseling. Um, in fact, for example, Joel, you'll appreciate this at our agency Mental Health Advocates, we had a family peer advocate position open and they took away the, the college bachelor's degree requirement because they knew like, why do we need this? We need someone who's lived with it. So the family peer advocates have children, have had children and, you know, that have been, uh, served. So why do you need a degree for that? In fact, you're probably eliminating a good part of your applicant pool. Speaker 0 00:21:09 Yeah, definitely. And that, that ti if we're gonna talk about black experience, opportunities for education, support, family wealth and opportunities to go to college. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, one of the things that I've noticed about black culture, which I think has been so pointedly, uh, insightful for me about priority is I often see, um, stories of people in, in black community leaving education to take care of parents or people who are not well. And yeah, I, I see it often. I hear it often and I understand that as a kind of connection and bond that maybe I don't, I'm not privy to or didn't grow up with. Speaker 1 00:21:54 Yeah. Um, you know, it's interesting. Um, I was on a panel back in September, uh, on about Tops Massacre. It was a, a Channel seven thing. And it was amazing. Um, Zeta Everhart, who is Zer Everhart, zer Everhart was shot, he was injured and he wasn't killed, but he was shot in. Venetta has been a very vocal supporter of her son and, you know, advocate and, and personally spoken out a lot about the master. But one thing she said, which very interesting, is that despite all of her success, she ended up working, she actually, she, uh, was working with Tim Kenny's office. I think she still is. She's now running for, uh, a local, um, you know, common council position, still work for Tim Kennedy, Albany. A lot of success. But with that though, she said she still has to take care of her family. So that's the thing, like they talk about generational wealth. One of the issues is that how do you build generational wealth if you are committed to take care of other family members who don't have, say, the privileges that others do. I mean, Speaker 0 00:22:52 There's redlining, they're bank loans and mortgages, which, which are have a double standard so that if you make one late payment and you're black, you're done. Whereas there's, there's a lot more leeway and forgiveness if you're white. Speaker 1 00:23:06 And then don't even talk about the criminal justice system, which truly has its own, uh, financial penalties that if you are say, have a sanction of some kind of as a financial penalty, if you don't pay it, you, you get locked into that system and you have to pay it out until you get some relinquishment of, of whatever you charge with. And you're just perpetual system. And so it's like, how do you dig yourself? Like you have, you have like a, a 10 foot ladder and a 15 foot hole. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can never dig yourself out. Speaker 0 00:23:34 So I don't know if you know this, I don't know if I've shared this with you, but I'm on the board of nami, uh, national Alliance. Speaker 1 00:23:39 Yes. I do know that. I do Speaker 0 00:23:41 That. NAMI Buffalo. So it's a local chapter of nami. There's a state chapter. New York State has a NAMI chapter and there's a national headquarters, nami. And so one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about is that I am chairperson of the advocacy committee. And on the advocacy committee we've developed four subcommittees. And these four subcommittees are rural, rural communities and mental health hospitalization, CPE P and mental health legislation subcommittee. And the fourth, the fourth subcommittee is incarceration and mental health. Mm-hmm. So these are areas that we've targeted specifically through NAMI Buffalo that, you know, we're reaching out to, uh, lawmakers and representatives and meeting with them to sort of further the education and reduce the stigma about the necessary voting to support mental health resources and mental health programs. And I know right. The governor, Kathy Hoel. Speaker 1 00:24:39 Oh, yep, yep, yep. Speaker 0 00:24:40 He just had a very strong budget with tremendous support for mental health programs in including Speaker 1 00:24:47 5 billion. Speaker 0 00:24:48 Yeah, yeah. Do you, are you familiar with that at all? Do you, do you know? Speaker 1 00:24:51 Oh, absolutely. That was, that was big news. <laugh>. We were all over that one. Um, so basically about maybe yeah, five, six weeks or six weeks ago. So, uh, run, run of the air, of course. When, when, uh, the governor announced her, her proposed, proposed budget. Yeah. Still has to be voted on. Um, but her proposed budget for the coming year, uh, fiscal year, talked about 5 billion for, uh, mental health she talked about, and her state of the state address. And so at first, at first before we knew what it was all about, like, yay, great money. But then it's all like, you know, what is it for? She talked about, you know, increasing inpatient beds. She talked about increasing, they're called CCBHCs, immunity care, behavioral health clinics. Okay. So, um, they're like basically centers, uh, that are like organizations that are being, giving money for a variety of services. Speaker 1 00:25:43 Um, and then there's also gonna be some critical, uh, you know, centers placed throughout the state. And I think one is being operated by best self here locally. Um, so, you know, a lot of these money is going forth and here and there and, but there's no mention of peers. And that's a big thing right there. But also the idea of pay has not kept up with the cost of living increases over the years, uh, to the point where even last year it was like a two and a half percent bump, as we say, still doesn't keep up with the cost of living. So over time, if you go back even further, there were for years, no cost of living increases. So you got people who are still, you know, came to play catch up. And so we asked, and I say we meaning the, the advocacy community from the Mental Health Association of New York State. Speaker 1 00:26:28 I'm the vice chair Yeah. ERs, which is New York Association, uh, with psychiatric data services. And many other, uh, advocacy organizations in the state have been pushing for eight and half percent cola There's pushback. And, and now they're saying, saying, well, 3% or whatever. But the bottom line is people need to have a sustainable wage, uh, to live on. Um, you know, even though people do this work because they love it, you can't, can't, you know, you can't work on patent alone. You have to pay your bills, you have to feed your family. This is hard work. Speaker 0 00:26:59 So that's, that's really interesting. I'm wondering, could we shift gears for a minute? I wanna ask you about, about spirituality and your mental health experiences mm-hmm. <affirmative> Speaker 1 00:27:08 Mm-hmm. Speaker 0 00:27:09 <affirmative>. What, what does that look like for you? How have you experienced that? And sort of like, what have you learned and maybe like, where would you like to see it go? Speaker 1 00:27:16 So my, my story begins when I had my first episode when it's college student, when I experienced pollutions. And as you say, there's called delusion persecution, if you wanna call it that. I mean, as delusion, I was the devil. I mean, that sounds, I hate these word crazy, but it was literally like, you know, it was a delusion. But as a result of that, I, you know, hospitalized and over course number of years would go through these periods of delusional experiences, hospitalizations, um, believing that, you know, a healer or supernatural or negative. Like, and some people have that, those delusional beliefs. Um, then after time, once I, I, I will use the word stabilized cause that's, you know, that's the word that we use. But after time time, once I healed, I came out of that. So the symptoms slowly went away. And this is interesting cause I can even look back to like, even, even like after my experience working in, um, counseling. Speaker 1 00:28:09 I've gone in hard. They, they're still sort of there a little bit, a little bit. Slowly. They went away to the point where, okay, I don't have those thoughts anymore. Um, but they stay with me. But now I've gotten to a place through my 12 step work Yeah. Through my work to my church that I do my participate in and my own faith journey that I've developed my own personal belief system where I am, and also where I wanna be and what I'm still learning. And I am a lifelong learner in all kinds of ways. But when I think about my own personal spiritual journey, it really is about the growth and being open-minded and, and learning in ways that will help me to, as I say, develop that, that conscious contact. You know, and 12 step programs are great because, um, for me, they're, they're spiritual. They're spiritual programs. And, and 11 step, you know, we, we made a, we sucked a prayer meditation connect with our higher power. So I did some prayer meditation. So that's what I'm really, that's the thing I'm focusing on a lot now in my life now, Joel, is prayer, meditation, the morning prayer. I'm intentionally getting from the morning doing these things, started my day and not safely. It's making a difference. Speaker 0 00:29:20 You know, we started off the talk sort of sharing that we were professionally and personally walking in friendship together. And, you know, you had just come over, uh, I think last Saturday to watch a documentary called Amongst White Clouds, a documentary about Chan Chan being the Chinese version of Zen, or the Chinese word for Zen. It comes from Diana. Diana is a Sanskrit, which means meditation. It traveled to China, it became Chan when it traveled to Japan, it became Zen. We know it is Zen. But Zen Chan and Diana all just mean meditation and talking about the spiritual aspect of mental health and sort of like, I know you expressed deep curiosity about amongst white clouds mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and you and I even had talks about meditation. I'm just wondering if you could speak a little about, about what meditation is for you Speaker 1 00:30:10 Now. It's for me personally, especially with a person living with a, uh, a brain that is going a lot, uh, fast <laugh>, it's my brain. It's trying to slow it down, put the brakes on a little bit, and, uh, and give it a rest. That's the thing. More, more than anything. And you know what? It's too, Joel, my quality of sleep has gotten better. I'm sleeping for the night. Am I, I'm exercising. That's a whole other thing I do. But the sleep, my, so, you know, I, I meditate every night before I go to sleep. Not a long time, 10 50 minutes, that's it. But I, I then I pray and I, you know, go to bed. Yeah. And, and also when I, when I, when I meditate, I, of course I, I focus on my breathing. Um, and then sometimes, you know, it's interesting, I, I I will sometimes, uh, use like a, a mantra to my, I have a mantra. Um, or, or sometimes I'll just listen. Do I, do I hear any like messages? Speaker 0 00:31:00 One of the things that I've come to realize is that this is so interesting that you talk about messages and messaging in receiving messages, in, in too much, too much of that it bekin becomes a symptom and it becomes a problem, and it can interfere with our quality of life. But in a moderate measured dose, it is a fundamental part of human being, right? A fundamental part of our spiritual connection with something greater than ourself and necessary for our guidance in life. So, you know, one of the things that I I like to say is that, you know, I grew up, uh, Jewish, and you know, if you look at the Star of David, the bottom parallel line could be look at, looked at like Earth or the physical, or even the body itself. Our body, the top parallel line could be construed as like heaven or the spiritual, our psychology. Speaker 0 00:31:56 And so when there's too much spirituality, a we, we neglect the body. We're so preoccupied with spiritual matters or thinking or delusions in whatever forms they take. If you, if you reverse that and you go too much into the physical, you're just the body. There's no spiritual in your life. There's no faith. Yeah. So you need this balance. You need this balance of like the spiritual and the physical. We're very much the two, the two parallel lines and the star of David, you know, it's taught that. And in the Star of David, the top parallel line, heaven descending to earth. And the bottom spiritual line is the physical or earth ascending to heaven. And in the middle is where you wanna be. It's, it's the moderate human experience. Speaker 1 00:32:37 You know, it's funny cause people say, oh, silent meditation, whatever. Well, they have, um, these, uh, these, uh, ambient sounds, right. That you can use. And I'm, and I'm, I'm just one of these people I love sound. I just, I have to confess, so I don't do silent meditation, but I use one, it's called Angelic Choir. Speaker 0 00:32:55 Oh, wow. Speaker 1 00:32:56 And, and it's a loop. It's a loop, uh, just like this, it sounds like a, oh, like I can't do it, but it's like, almost like a, you know, I know it's synthetic, but it sounds like a, almost like a, like a choir, but it's kinda loops and mind you, but it's still, it's still, it's a loop. It's meditative. No, you can, you can just background. It's ambient. Um, but for me personally, I believe in angels. I believe in beings. And, and so I think, so when I use that, it's like my way of connecting and what do you call it, guardian angels or, I mean, there's of course, there's really angels throughout the bible and, and, and so forth that, that are known and, and, you know, different types. So, um, that's always been fascinating to me. Speaker 0 00:33:37 I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about mental health versus, and your program coming up and what you're doing, how important music is to you, and how you're doing this show mental health versus, could you talk a little bit about that? Speaker 1 00:33:50 Sure. So, um, right now I have a radio program called Mental Health versus V E R S E S. That's on the Buffalo State Radio Station. Um, it's 91.3 FM in Buffalo. Uh, you can hear it on the radio FX app anywhere streaming. It's, uh, live, uh, Monday evenings 6:00 PM Eastern Time in the us. And, um, so basically it's a idea of talk about music and, and mental health. Tell you, it's like the intersection, but really it's how, um, the people I have on my show, we talk about liberal, but the work they do, but more so about the musical listen to that is a reflection of their lives and their emotional wellbeing in whatever way I've had, I've done, so right now I've done 15 shows this September, but I had a young, actually a young, well, to me young woman a couple weeks ago, who is a, um, person who has lives with a mental health condition and also pro recurring addiction disorder, was amazing guest. Speaker 1 00:34:48 And so we talk about music and, but each person has like three or four songs that we play in their entire entirety. And they talk about a story or stories that go with the music and why it means something. And my last guest, Joel, was amazing. Um, Erin Moss, she's a local Bay Health provider. She had a, it was an amazing show talking about the music that he loves. So that's what we do in the program. So this coming, uh, well, Thursday, March 2nd, I'm doing a program, um, which is based on a radio show where I'm, it's this gonna be me, but I'm gonna be giving a talk, but also incorporating music that I listen to, but also images. Uh, it's gonna be like a, I call it like a TED talk with music. So, uh, I'll be doing that, um, at, at my church, uh, Pilgrim St. Luke's, ucc. And, um, it'll be re I, I'm still still working on it. I'm still, you know, kind of conceptualizing it. I think. I think it's gonna be pretty cool. It's, I've never done any like this before, but I love doing things that are edgy and different. And Speaker 0 00:35:45 Carl, could you tell me sort of where would you like things to go? Where would you like to see things go for mental health, community and, and, and yourself and just in general, what are your visions and hopes for the Speaker 1 00:35:56 Future? My visions, hopes for future are, um, for the next generation to be healthier. You know, I, so much, the work I do is, uh, with young people on behalf of young people. I don't work with young people directly, but I certainly work with those who do. And I hear the stories and I hear the problems. I hear about the disruptive classrooms. I hear all these things. I hear about our kids these days that are concerning. And mind you, it's not everywhere, but it's enough that I know that we're in a crisis, a mental health crisis with you. And if we don't help them, then our future is gone. We, we don't have a future. We really need to support next generation more than anything. Of course, veterans and older adults, I mean, we all need support. Everybody needs support. Also recruiting more people of color, that's also needed without a doubt. Speaker 1 00:36:39 I mean, for people to go see someone that isn't like them. Believe it or not, some people don't understand this, but could be a challenge. If you go to speak to someone who may not look like you, isn't from your community, that might be intimidating. Or why am I gonna open this person who doesn't have my experience? What are they gonna tell me? There's a few things I'd like to see changed. And also what I would say about than anything is just people to speak up and speak out. One organization I'm involved with is the, uh, Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. And we have a campaign called Let's Talk Stigma. And our website is Let's talk stigma.org, where you can go on there. There's information. We have a Facebook Live once a month, uh, and so we're doing things to try to break the stigma of mental Speaker 0 00:37:23 Illness. Carl, my brother, I'm so proud to call you my friend. I'm so proud of the journey that you're on. I'm very grateful to know you. Speaker 1 00:37:30 The well, I just wanna say the feelings mutual. And of course, I think, uh, I also believe that people in our lives for a reason. I know quite for the, yeah. If people just talk to each other, my gosh. I mean, and the, the problem is we have such a messed up society that says you can't do that. You're not supposed to do that. That's what, that's what the problem is. If people could just talk to each other, they have these conversations. Yeah, we do have much more. It's the human condition. We all have the human condition. We all live, you know, we all die, we all have pain. We all joy like feelings. We all have the same things. It's just that a lot of things get in the way of us understanding we have those things in Speaker 0 00:38:04 Common. Many blessings. I know. I'll see you.

Other Episodes