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Episode 4 – An Interview with Mental Health Advocate and Certified Peer Specialist, Michael Solomon

Episode 4 of OC87 Recovery Diaries on the Radio features an interview with mental health advocate and author, Michael Solomon. Solomon, who wrote the book, It Comes from Within, suffers from bipolar disorder but has been in recovery for many years now.

Telling his story is what comes natural for Solomon. He is a regular speaker for the In Our Own Voice presentations which are sponsored by NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and he is a key mental health activist and speaker in the Philadelphia metro area.


EPISODE 4 – An Interview with Mental Health Advocate and Certified Peer Specialist, Michael Solomon

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During this podcast interview, Solomon speaks to such issues as coping with a mental illness, how not to define yourself by your illness, and some of the biggest misconceptions the public has about those who are living with mental challenges.

OC87 Recovery Diaries on the Radio co-host Bud Clayman calls Michael Solomon, “a beacon of hope.” Clayman says, “Michael has moved past the revolving door of recurrent hospitalizations and has truly built a meaningful life for himself. In particular, he has gotten married and found a wonderful life partner in his wife, Judy. He is someone to truly look up to and I admire all that he’s done for the mental health community.”

OC87 Recovery Diaries on the Radio is honored and proud to have Michael Solomon on its fourth episode.


Other mental health organizations that Mike Solomon is affiliated with:

Tikvah/Alliance for the Jewish Mentally Ill (but serves all denominations)

Montgomery County Emergency Service (MCES)

NAMI Montgomery County

Certified Peer Specialist Training links



An Hour of Mental Health Short Films on PBS station WHYY

The language of film is well-suited to explore the journeys of the mind. I have been so very lucky to work with men and women who agree about the potential of this kind of storytelling; who are also invested in sharing journeys of recovery that inform and inspire. My colleagues have enthusiastically embarked with me to tap into the extremely vulnerable, but ultimately triumphant, adventure of translating these stories for the screen.

My personal history with the powerful combination of mental health and film started with OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, a feature film that I directed with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston. OC87 is a moving, insightful, and often funny film that tells the story of Bud Clayman’s own mental health recovery journey, in which filmmaking plays a significant role. We learn about Bud’s personal history as well as his hopes to pursue a career in filmmaking. Throughout the film, everyday activities are depicted that, for Bud, (and for many others, in fact) can be quite challenging — riding a bus, walking down the street, or ordering at a restaurant. Sound design, slow motion, and other cinematic techniques are employed to recreate Bud’s lived experience for viewers. It was a risky undertaking, but it worked. Audience members strongly identified with Bud’s heroic internal struggle as he battled the everyday. “You gave my story the red carpet treatment,” said one beaming viewer to me after a screening. At that moment, I was moved to continue using my skills as a filmmaker to give more people’s stories the “red carpet treatment.”

Bud Clayman & Glenn Holsten during the filming of OC87

OC87 screenings around the country were followed by Q&A’s, where men and women would get up and share their own inspiring journeys of recovery. Each was a moving and valuable contribution to the understanding of mental health struggle, and most were filled with hope for positive and fulfilling lives. We wanted to find a home for these stories, and OC87 Recovery Diaries, the website, was born.

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to create short documentaries for the website that are inspired by the tradition started with the feature film OC87. For the past few years, Bud Clayman and I have directed stories that bring to light the lived experiences of recovery from mental illness, and show how people who live with mental health challenges create paths to meaningful lives. The rewards of crafting and sharing these short films are immense, and I’m very happy to share the news that a new, one-hour special for public television has been created, and will begin to be shared with public television stations this month. On May 18th at 10:00pm, viewers in the WHYY (Philadelphia) area can watch the film on WHYY TV 12. A wider PBS distribution will occur in October.

OC87 Recovery Diaries is a film about people, not diagnoses. The film is a collection of beautifully told short stories that inspire and empower, stories that generate discussion and awareness in an effort to dismantle stigma — all told by people moving through their own recovery journeys.

Here is a promo for the film that presents our players and their stories.

Video portraits include:

Stephanie Sikora, who uses equine therapy to help with her bipolar disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Working with horses helps her control anger, frustration, and anxiety. Her trust in horses has allowed her to trust people.

Robert “Cozmo” Consulmagno, aka “Crazy Cozmo,” is a Marine Corps. veteran who lives with PTSD and bipolar disorder. Extreme physical exercise is his way of coping with the challenges of the trauma he experienced as a child at the hands of an abusive stepfather.

Mike Veny attempted suicide at age ten. He was expelled from three schools for behavior problems and was hospitalized repeatedly for psychiatric issues as a child. Today, he is an outspoken mental health advocate and drummer who is searching for a definition of healthy masculinity as he deals with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety. Watch Mike Veny do the (near) impossible: interview his depression.

Sheri Heller is a powerful trauma survivor who now helps others who have experienced trauma. This short animated film artfully details her journey with a mother who had schizophrenia. Sifting through the wreckage of her childhood, she uses her creativity to help her channel the hurt and the pain. As a therapist, Sheri looks for beauty in the ugliness of the world and helps others to heal.

The staff members at Montgomery County Emergency Service (MCES), a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania, rush through busy, stressful days helping people in mental health crisis. But do they ever have time to look at one another? In 2014, they stepped way out of their comfort zones to slow down, and learn, and grow by rehearsing, producing, and performing Thornton Wilder’s timeless play, Our Town as a benefit for their patients, and themselves.

Hyacinth King traveled from private school to private hell as she wrestled with the toxic combination of schizophrenia, drug abuse, and homelessness. Eighteen years ago, she discovered Project HOME, and her life as an advocate for those who have experienced homelessness began.

Monica Rose, a young transwoman, talks about her experience with mental health challenges, homelessness, and finding her chosen family at The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.

Danielle Hark is a passionate mental health advocate and wellness warrior. She created the website Broken Light Collective to bring together images from photographers all over the world who live with mental health challenges. Although Danielle wrestles with many of her own mental health issues, she is also a stunning photographer who explores our delicate world with her camera.

On a personal note, I am indebted to all the wonderful people who help us craft these videos, including talented producers, directors of photography, assistant directors, sound recordists, editors, composers, animators, graphic designers, production assistants. The quality of the work reflects the respect the creative team has for the storytellers. Everyone who is touched by these stories is affected by these stories.

We will continue to promote screenings of the one-hour film throughout the year on this site and our various social media platforms. I hope you enjoy meeting these men and women as much as I have. Their brave and passionate journeys of recovery continue to inspire me, long after the filming and editing is over.

Those in the WHYY viewing area can watch the one-hour film live on Thursday, May 18 at 10:00pm or via Apple TV, Roku, or On Demand via the Local Tab on your PBS On Demand section.


For those outside the WHYY viewing area, stay tuned for updates on other screenings!

How Past Trauma Informs You as a Mental Healthcare Worker


Christa Godillot is a Registered Nurse at Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc. (MCES), a private, non-profit crisis psychiatric hospital located in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Recently, she sat down with her friend and former colleague, OC87 Recovery Diaries editor Gabriel Nathan to talk about her career and her life. In Part two of her interview, Christa talks about her past and her experiences with trauma and how those experiences shaped who she is today. Please click here to read Part one of her interview.   (more…)

A Nurse at an Inpatient Mental Health Hospital Tells Her Story


Here at OC87 Recovery Diaries, we focus primarily on stories about mental health recovery from the perspective of the individuals engaged in recovery. Sometimes, we shine the spotlight on the individuals who help folks along on that road of recovery—often, those are mental health professionals, like Christa Godillot. Christa is a Registered Nurse at Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc. (MCES), a private, non-profit crisis psychiatric hospital, located in Norristown, Pennsylvania. For several years, Christa worked on the inpatient unit with OC87 Recovery Diaries editor Gabriel Nathan. Gabe recently spent some time with Christa, interviewing her about her career as a psychiatric nurse, and as well about how her past helped shape who she is today. We hope that you enjoy Part I of this two-part interview, the next installment of which will run on January 25th.   (more…)

Mental Health & Law Enforcement: Interview With Jeff Shannon


Routinely, law enforcement officers in the United States are tasked with becoming the de-facto street-level mental health workers, responding to increasing numbers of mental health-related calls.  This requires more training, more effort placed on de-escalation and crisis intervention, and it also requires a shift from more traditional methods of policing.  Police officers are also at risk for a variety of mental health-related challenges themselves.  Here to talk about all of this is Berkeley, California Police Officer and Marriage Family Therapist, Jeff Shannon.  This is Part One of a two-part interview.  Follow this link to read the second part of the interview. (more…)