Hi I’m Penny Johnson. I have been employed as a CST Specialist for the past six years. I also worked as the Technical Assistant for the Southeast Regional CSP Committee for five of those years. I was recently promoted to my new position as Project Coordinator for CST, replacing longtime employee Ameika Malcolm who has taken a newly created position in the Hope Market.
I really appreciate the opportunity to work full time with the CST team. It’s an honor to be chosen for the job. Ameika has big shoes to fill.
Together as a team we have really been growing and learning and I hope to build on that so we can learn and grow even more. One of the things we do is skill building, like working on computers. Recently, the team split into groups to come up with a problem scenario and a plan on how to solve it. This exercise demonstrates how people have the ability to solve problems on their own. Then we make it into a team building activity for the entire team to do. One problem we are currently working on is leaving for work and forgetting something important, like keys. So we’ll have an activity around that focusing on ways to remember things we tend to forget.
Another way we become stronger and more skilled is by having individuals with stronger skills teach and share those skills with other team members. So we’re learning from each other. We are doing a lot of new stuff and the team is really having good input!
CST Specialists are people with lived experience using mental health services. Our job is to go to inpatient hospitals, residential programs and outpatient programs to survey individuals there on a volunteer basis. This gives people using services an opportunity to have their voices heard. After the interviews, we compile the survey answers and create reports which go to providers and the county Office of Mental Health so they can see what people using services think and make changes based on that.
Right now we are doing final surveys of CHIPPs residential programs. CHIPPs is the Community Hospital Integrated Program Project. We have surveyed the career centers and the ACT teams and are currently creating those reports. And, we are also creating a peer support services survey and an inpatient survey.
Although I am no longer the regional CSP technical assistant, I look forward to being part of both the local and regional CSP committees. I am currently the co-chair for the Montgomery County CSP Conference Committee and have served for three years on the Montgomery County Peer Advisory Council and the past two years on the county’s Peer Respite Committee, and the Suicide Prevention Task Force.