As a Certified Peer Specialist, my job is to give hope that recovery from a mental illness is possible. That doesn't mean it is cured, but that you can live a satisfying life by changing the way you think and take care of yourself. I work at McDuffie Mental Health with the Day Support programs, called Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) and Peer Support. Day Support was founded to help individuals with a mental illness learn coping skills, independent living skills such as budgeting, and other skills they may need to regain stability and independence in the community. Well, that's just the surface.
Beneath the surface, the clients are changing every day. They are learning to take control of their symptoms and lives. Recovery is different for all people. Some are able to bounce right into shape after six months to a year, but for most, recovery is something that takes small steps, and lots of time and patience. In that time, their needs vary by client. One thing they all need is hope. Hope that their lives can be better than what they know and have ever expected. They need the proper materials to carry out their dreams, wishes, and desires. They need support from the staff. Also, they need support from the community that they are trying so hard to be a part of, in which they belong.
Most of the clients in the Day Support program have been labeled as "crazy, freaky, scary, weird, retarded and stupid." That's how they've been treated all their lives. Well, let me tell you from personal experience, none of those labels are correct. They are people -- just like you. They are air-breathing individuals who need food and water to survive. Their brains tell their bodies what to do, just like yours. The truth is, some of them are smarter, funnier, and more interesting than you and I together. They want to work, fall in love, have children, and be productive, just like you and me. They just need a little more help getting there. Everyone's situation in life is different. Those differences determine who and what you are. However, by hearing that you can be more, then learning how to be more, you will be positively affected. It may even give you that push you need, out of your comfort zone, to be happier and more productive. This is true for everyone in the world, not just mental health clients.
The funds for Day Support and other on-site-treatment programs are basically depleted. This is the worst possible time for this to happen, considering the holidays are approaching. For quite a few of them, the meals provided for them at Mental Health are the only holiday meals they will receive. Not all of the clients live with family or in a personal care facility. Some are estranged from family and barely have a social life, so their family ends up being their peers at the Mental Health Center. Most everyone wants to be with family and celebrate with them for the holidays. The Day Support clients are no different. They want and deserve good meals and memories for the holidays.
Take, for example, their recent Halloween party. Ninety-five percent of them were able to pay $3 toward having fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, baked beans, rolls, chips and dip, deviled eggs, red velvet cake, snacks for prizes, drinks, plates, napkins, and silverware. That left another 5 percent who could not have the meal because they were unable to pay for it. There wasn't enough money gathered from the nearly 30 clients to pay for everything. Therefore, in order for all of them to enjoy their Halloween party, staff had to take up the slack, providing some of the food and cooking it. The staff was able to do it this time but may not be able to provide them with all they deserve next time.
The Day Support staff members have families also which they are obligated to provide for, and though their hearts are in the right place as far as donating money to the clients for the holidays, they just can't handle it all. This gives you, the community, a chance to show your support for the individuals here at McDuffie Mental Health, who are trying to change, grow, and be "normal" like you.
If you can spare monetary donations toward funding their Thanksgiving dinner at a decent restaurant, which is approximately $6 per person, or donate a $25 gift card from Wal-Mart as a Christmas gift, any and all of the above would be greatly appreciated. If you have any ideas on how their holiday season can be made brighter, please contact us at 595-2739, Monday through Friday, from 8am to 3pm, and ask for Day Support staff. We do have tax write-off reciepts available for sizeable donations. If you are personally unable to donate but would like to help, please pass the word on.
All of the staff at McDuffie Mental Health are eager to assist clients in recovery, however, it hits closer to home for me. I am in recovery. I live my life daily with a mental illness. I learned from the staff here at McDuffie Mental Health that recovery is possible when you have the proper support and necessary tools. I received what I needed to be a productive citizen of McDuffie County. Now I am lucky enough to be able to help other clients through the recovery process and to advocate on their behalf. In large part, the credit for my recovery is due to community support.
I am asking for your help again, but this time not for me. Wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you if you were the client?