Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mental Illnesses and Disorders: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. This event can be witnessed or experienced. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. PTSD symptoms are usually grouped into four types: (1) intrusive memories, (2) avoidance, (3) negative changes in thinking and mood, (4) or changes in emotional reactions. PTSD symptoms may increase when you’re stressed in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. Viewing or experiencing situations similar to your personal traumatic experience can alleviate this disorder’s symptoms.

Events that can lead to PTSD include: combat exposure, childhood neglect and sexual or physical abuse, sexual assault, physical attack and being threatened with a weapon. PTSD increases your risk of having other mental health problems, such as Depression and anxiety, Issues with drugs or alcohol use, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts and actions.

If you think you may have PTSD, make an appointment with your primary care provider, or a mental health provider. In emergency cases, please go to the emergency room at your local hospital

10 Years of Peer Support In Montgomery County

Many times it is said that it takes one to know one, and we have modeled that concept for 10 years in Montgomery County. I have been a Certified Peer Support Specialist since 2005. We have not only grown in numbers since then, but in recognition and respect for the work that we do, and the differences that we make. I remember when I took the class along with the Wrap trainings, the instructors were Matt F., Eric L. and Gina C. All of these instructors have progressed in the field, and advanced credibility of what is the face of peer support. We are now an insurance billable profession. In 2005, we were only known as those people, and looked on as a threat. Therapists, Psychiatrists, and Social Workers, had their doubts. Many of them today have joined our ranks and are now Certified Peer Support Specialist. The stigma of having mental health issues is slowly disappearing.


Sue Shannon takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Sue Shannon, director of Hopeworx Inc. was challenged by Kathie Mitchell, director of Community Advocates of Montgomery County to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  The Ice Bucket Challenge was devised to raise funds and awareness of ALS.  The way it works is once you do the challenge you can challenge others to donate and douse themselves with ice water.  The video above shows Sue Shannon doing her part.  The Ice bucket challenge has gone viral and the ALS association has raised over 85 million dollars towards research to cure ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

If you would like more information about this phenomenon you can go to the ALS Association webpage.

Robin Williams Dead at 63 Due to Suicide

When a person chooses suicide, it’s hard to accept that choice.

Comedian and award-winning actor Robin Williams apparently made that choice earlier this morning. Robin Williams has long suspected to be a sufferer of either depression or bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where the person fluctuates between episodes of extreme energy, focus and productivity (mania) and severe depression. Apparently, he was in one of the episodes of depression when he took his own life.

We mourn his loss.

The coroner said that Williams’ death was “a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.”
Williams had long struggled with addiction and mental illness. 1 “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes,” Williams told Terry Gross on the “Fresh Air” NPR radio show in 2006. “Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”2

According to news accounts:


“Robin Williams passed away this morning,” said Mara Buxbaum, president of [Williams’] PR firm. “He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

His wife, Susan Schneider, issued a brief statement: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken,” she said.

Suicide is an insidious choice due to the lies that depression tells us. When a person is suffering from severe depression, as apparently Williams was, it can tell that person, “Hey, you’d be better off dead. Life isn’t going to get any better.”

And sadly, sometimes people listen. Even brilliant, accomplished individuals such as Robin Williams.

Williams is best known as a comedian who made his name first in stand-up, then in TV on the hit show Mork & Mindy, and later with movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, and Good Will Hunting, where he won an Oscar for his role as a therapist.

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is most-commonly treated through a combination of psychotherapy and medications. People who limit their treatment or stop taking medications may be at higher risk for the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, such as mania or depression. Most people with bipolar disorder need lifelong treatment for the concern, as there is no cure for it.

Some people with bipolar disorder feel that the medications commonly prescribed for the disorder make them feel like they’re “living in a fog,” or that all their emotions lack any sort of depth. For these kinds of reasons, some people choose not to keep taking medications to treat the disorder.

Suicide is a common symptom of severe, clinical depression. When properly treated, the feelings of suicide often remit as the depression lifts. But even under treatment, sometimes people choose to take their own life.

While we may never understand why someone who enjoyed so much family and success as Robin Williams did might take their own life, we can appreciate the body of work he left behind. He lit up many people’s lives with his humor, infectious energy, and poignant roles.

Robin Williams will be missed.

This article was borrowed from the Psych Central blog and can be found here.

Hopeworx Member of the Month: Penny Johnson

Penny has been a part of the CST team since August 2013. She was born in Huntington Valley, Pa., and raised in the states of Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Penny gets up at 5am every morning to prepare food for the homeless and less fortunate at the Hospitality Center on Church Street in Norristown, Pa. She enjoys volunteering and helping others. While at the Hospitality Center, Penny not only prepares meals, but also gives peer support, matching individual’s problems with resources.

Lack of understanding or compassion for the plights of people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues are Penny’s pet peeves. She believes that this is one thing that brought her to the Consumer Satisfaction Team. Her mission is helping to identify things that can be changed or improved.

          One of Penny’s goals in life is to become a certified peer support specialist. She is currently a candidate for the next peer support class. Working as a peer support specialist and walking with people during their recovery journey will make Penny’s life complete. We believe that Penny will be a great peer support specialist, as she is a dedicated Consumer Satisfaction Team member!


The Regional CSP Holds Their Committee Elections

The Southeast Regional CSP of Pennsylvania recently held their elections. The new co-chairs are Nancy Scheible and Robert Richter and June Sams. The new Technical Assistant is Penny Johnson, and the incoming Treasurer is Ellen Kozlowski. Congratulations to all elected, with hopes of a smooth and productive year.

The Community Support Program (CSP) of Pennsylvania is a coalition of mental health consumers, family members and professionals working to help adults with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders live successfully in the community. This statewide coalition links CSP nationally with regional and local CSPs though out the State

Southeast Region of CPS meets on the 1st Monday of every month from 2pm to 5pm at HopeWorx, Inc. – 1210 Stanbridge Street, Suite 600 – Norristown, Pa. 19401. Come and support your region! Your advocacy and involvement dictates change in our system of care!