OC87 Recovery Diaries is proud to present the third and final part of a series of portraits of men who have participated in the Philadelphia’s Engaging Males of Color BEyond Expectations storytelling series.
This post features the story of, and interview with, Kamren Washington-Richards, a seventeen-year-old student who attends Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School. In addition to his studies, Kamren works at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, through a program called PACTS – Partnerships for Advancing Careers in Technology and Science. (more…)
Men of color in Philadelphia are busting stigma by sharing their journeys of mental health recovery.
OC87 Recovery Diaries is proud to present the second part of a series of portraits of men who have participated in the city’s Engaging Males of Color BEyond Expectations storytelling series. (more…)
In the U.S., males of color are disproportionately affected by various forms of marginalization and adversity including violence, poverty, incarceration, lack of access to health care, low social status and trauma.
With the pressures of daily life and our societal stigma associated with mental health challenges, how can males of color engage in a thoughtful, honest and supportive dialogue about mental health?
In Philadelphia, they are doing it through the power of stories. (more…)
Sheri Heller is a clinical social worker who is in private practice as a psychotherapist, specializing in treating trauma and addictive disorders
Sheri’s mother, Pearl, lived with schizophrenia. As a result, her family lived in turmoil. She has spent much of her life living with the effects of her unhealthy relationship with both of her parents, sifting through wreckage of her childhood, and using her creativity to help her channel the hurt and the pain. A few months back, she sent us a moving piece of creative writing about their relationship titled “An Orphan’s Memorial to Her Dying Mother.” (more…)
Read the first part of the interview here.
OC87 Recovery Diaries is pleased to share this interview with Dr. Otto Wahl, a pioneering researcher who studies the impact of media images about mental illness on stigma. Throughout his career, Dr. Wahl has documented the damaging and inaccurate stereotypes of people who live with mental illness created by the media – in particular television, newspapers and dramatic films. (more…)
This is part one of a two-part interview. Follow this link to read the second installment of the interview.
In the U.S. we can talk about cancer, asthma, heart disease (or most any other disease, frankly) without worry of recrimination. Can the same be said for talking about a mental illness diagnosis?
OC87 Recovery Diaries was formed to tackle stigma. We are well aware that although there has been progress, stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination still exist. At its core, stigma is a fundamental lack of knowledge and misinformation about people who live with mental illness. More often than not, the media tends to confuse — rather than educate — the general public on matters of mental health, and stigma ensues. (more…)
When Alison Malmon was a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, her older brother, Brian, ended his life. Brian experienced depression and psychosis for three years when he was a student at Columbia University, but concealed his symptoms from everyone around him.
As Alison grieved the loss of her brother, she became aware that there was a lack of places on college campuses where students felt comfortable talking to each other about mental health and suicide. So she created her own space for such a dialogue. Alison founded Active Minds in 2003 (then known as Open Minds) at the University of Pennsylvania. (more…)
This is part two of a series on Mike Veny. Read and watch part one here.
I stumbled upon Mike Veny’s website — transformingstigma.com — while doing research for a story on mental health, and I was instantly drawn to his positive message of hope and action: transforming stigma into strength.
In his work, Mike shares a vulnerable side of himself to further his mission: preventing the loss of life due to suicide. For the record, Mike wrestles with many mental health challenges, and talks openly about his daily struggles with anger, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. However, those diagnoses do not define Mike Veny. (more…)
This is part one of a two-part series. Here’s a link to part two where, through the magic of technology, Mike Veny interviews his own depression!
Mike Veny is an advocate who speaks boldly and truthfully about his journey and his mental health struggles. Mike Veny is an entrepreneur who makes a living inspiring others. Mike Veny is a drummer who breathes deep inside his spirit when he lives through his music.
Mike Veny is also a lifesaver. The first life he saved was his own. Now he’s making it his mission to use his life’s journey to help save others. Not only does he wrestle with his own set of mental health challenges, but he also wrestles with the idea of what it is to be a man with mental health challenges in today’s society. (more…)
A few months back, OC87 Recovery Diaries was sent a link to a song called “Bipolar-ish.” It was a funky, upbeat tune. The song was credited to an artist named H-Town Butta, and honestly, it caught me off guard. I loved the song’s friendly, pop sensibility, the layers of sound in the production, and the playful — yet honest — lyrics about her lived experience. (I can’t lie, my moods do swing, but that’s OK, it’s an everyday thing, first comes the joy and then comes the sadness . . .”). (more…)
Meet Danielle Hark, passionate mental health advocate and wellness warrior. And while she wrestles with many mental health issues, she is also a stunning photographer who explores our delicate world with the help of her camera.
In fact, she says, it was photography that saved her from death after one of her most severe “crashes” during a particularly dark time. (more…)
In May of 2013, 19-year-old Kevin Breel gave a TEDx talk in Ambleside, Canada. Eighty people were in the audience.
At the time, he was a recent high school drop out with ambitions of pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian. He was also a person living with depression. And wanted to tell his story to break the silence of suffering that he knew too well, a suffering that he imagined affected many other young people around the world. (more…)
Buddy Project was started with humble and honorable goals. Fifteen-year-old Gabby Frost wanted to connect people who might need a friend, because, as she says, “No one deserves to feel alone.”
The year was 2013. Gabby was a high school freshman at North Penn High School in Pennsylvania. At school, she supported friends who were wrestling with very real mental health challenges — including depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. Her friendship made a difference in their lives, they said, and her support helped them with their struggles. (more…)
Our nation’s jails and prisons have replaced hospitals as the primary facility for mentally ill individuals.
This powerful sentence is from a 2014 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating legal and other barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness in the U.S. It’s a heartbreaking, frustrating, and sad reality. Even more paralyzing is the fact that included in this population are men and women in prison who suffer with mental illnesses that prevent them from being able to advocate for themselves.
Here’s a good example: J.H. (a pseudonym to protect his identity) is a homeless man in his late 50s from Philadelphia who suffers from schizophrenia. He was charged with retail theft for stealing three Peppermint Pattie candies. And although a court ordered him to receive mental health treatment, J.H. spent 383 days in the Philadelphia Detention Center awaiting an opening for such treatment at Norristown State Hospital. 383 days!
This happened in spite of the fact that federal courts have found that delays of longer than seven days between a court’s commitment order and hospitalization for treatment are unconstitutional.
Robert “Cozmo” Consulmagno is a man with energy to spare and a fight inside. And while he faces human opponents (both on a jiu jitsu mat and in a boxing ring), his toughest battle is the fight that goes on inside his head. Cozmo is a Marine Corps. veteran who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder.
His wounds run deep. In addition to whatever emotional and physical trauma he suffered in the Marines, he also wrestles with the physical and psychological abuse he experienced as a child. In spite of the painful memories, Cozmo is determined to create something positive from his life’s battles.