The election is over. I'm sure that most of us are glad about that, regardless of how we feel about the outcome. I'm sure that many of us are trying to process what this campaign stirred up for us, and wondering if and how this nation can heal.
As a social worker, I love that I have a professional Code of Ethics to guide me. This Code of Ethics includes core values that guide me in my work and in my personal life. Social work's core values include service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of relationships, integrity, and competence.
What might social work have to say about all of these current events?
The National Association of Social Workers just put out a statement on the election of Mr. Trump. I post it here.
My final thought is a quote that I often remember, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." by Thich Nhat Hanh
NASW Statement on Donald J. Trump Election as 45th U.S. President
Association urges President-Elect to help heal divisiveness, trauma from his campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) congratulates Donald J. Trump on his election to become the 45th president of the United States.
The Association is deeply concerned by statements Mr. Trump has made regarding women, people of color and immigrants. At the same time, we acknowledge we must work with the new administration to address pressing issues of the day, including justice reforms, racial and gender inequality, access to health care for all, and helping more Americans achieve economic self-sufficiency and stability.
The NASW Code of Ethics makes clear the importance of social justice. We cannot support any efforts to marginalize or oppress any group of people, and will always work to assure that human rights extend to everyone. Social workers continue to strongly advocate for our country’s most vulnerable populations.
President-Elect Trump has said he is committed to restoring economic prosperity to the United States, helping more Americans afford care for their children and relatives who are older adults, and providing more services to our nation’s brave veterans and their families. We hope to build on these commonalities to move our country forward and will hold Mr. Trump accountable for his promises.
We also urge Mr. Trump and his administration to help heal the divisiveness and trauma his campaign has caused among some communities and populations. NASW, the largest professional social work association in the world with more than 125,000 members, is ready to help ensure these actions are done in a socially responsible and unifying manner.
NASW firmly supports our nation’s efforts to move forward in a positive way that acknowledges the inherent dignity and worth of all people. Specifically, NASW will work to ensure that President-Elect Trump appoints justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and judges to the Circuit Courts of Appeals and lower Federal District Courts who come from diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds and will protect the rights of all citizens.
Lastly, NASW congratulates Democrat nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton for her years of service. Mrs. Clinton has a long history of working for positive social change in areas of importance to social workers, including health care reform; the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; reproductive rights for women; racial justice and equal rights for people who are LGBT.
We share Mrs. Clinton’s hope for the future. Everyone deserves the chance to pursue and achieve their dreams.
As Mrs. Clinton said in her concession speech, “let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear; making our economy work for everyone not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.”
For a long time, those who struggled with addictions had only one model of treatment and it centered around the idea of abstinence only. While 12 steps and abstinence only have certainly helped many people, they aren't for everyone.
What is harm reduction? In short, harm reduction refers to programs, policies, and practices that aim to the reduce the harms associated with substance use or other risky behaviors.
One of the first harm reduction ideas started with IV drug users and the concern of spreading HIV through dirty needles. At the time, it was controversial to be handing out clean needles to people who used IV drugs. Now needle exchange programs are commonplace, and the evidence supports that these programs reduce various harms (HIV, Hepatitis C, skin infections, etc.).
Some harm reduction ideas are so commonplace that many people don't realize they are participating in harm reduction--for example using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections, or using designated drivers while drinking.
Opioid Replacement Therapy, methadone maintenance programs, safe injection sites, and Naloxone distribution are among many other examples harm reduction.
Have you tried an abstinence only or 12 step approach and found difficulty with it? Don't give up hope--there are other options!
Harm reduction can be different for everyone. If you are using alcohol or other drugs, harm reduction may look like using less, using in different ways, using at different times, not driving while using, etc. Anything that reduces harm is part of harm reduction.
If you are interested in trying a harm reduction approach, whether it be with your alcohol use, gambling, or other drugs or risky behaviors, feel free to contact me. I'd love to help.
What have your experiences been with harm reduction and/or abstinence only approaches?
One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to read at least one book per week, or 52 books this year. I am well on my way to reaching that goal!
I was recently contact by a man from India who who asked me to read and review his book entitled Gulabi. The book was about a man who experiences psychosis. As I read the book, I couldn't help but wonder if the author himself had experienced psychosis. I reached out to him and he informed me that he was in fact diagnosed with schizophrenia and that Gulabi was one of his hallucinations during a psychotic episode. I was so impressed that this author, who has struggled with schizophrenia, was able to write this short book, and give readers a small glimpse of what it could be like to experience psychosis. He is now in graduate school and doing well!
It all got me thinking about mental health and recovery. When people hear the word recovery, they often think of addiction. But there is recovery in mental health as well. I thought I would share with you today some books written either about recovery or by those who are in recovery from mental health challenges.
Gulabi, written by Pankaj Suneja
Dante's Cure, written by Daniel Dorman
New Vision of Recovery: You Too Can Recover From Mental Illness, written by Daniel Fisher
Nobody's Child, written by Marie Balter and Richard Katz
There and Back Again: A Mental Health Recovery Book written by Someone Who Has Lived It, written by Emily Grossman
First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery, edited by Craig LeCroy and Jane Holschuh
My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness, written by Sandra Yuen MacKay
If you find yourself struggling with a mental health challenge, know that you are not alone. And, know that there is hope. It is possible to get better! The people and books above not only give us a glimpse of mental illness but also give us a glimpse into the possibility of recovery.
As always, feel free to contact me if I can be of help!
Short post today, because I am working on a challenge! Have you heard of the 40 bags in 40 days challenge? Getting rid of excess junk physically helps you to feel better mentally. I'm in! Who is going to join me?!
Wow, 2015 already! Did you set any New Year's Resolutions? I don't really believe in those types of resolutions, because for me, they just haven't ever worked. If they work for you--that is fantastic, and keep on going on! If you have struggled with them, like me, perhaps it is because if we aren't ready to make a change that we need to make all year, why would we be ready just because the calendar has moved to January 1st? Making changes are hard. It is possible to make changes though, provided that we're are ready to make the changes and that we have the information and support needed to make the changes.
Maybe you want to stop smoking. You might think you are ready, but do you have the support needed, if you have other smokers in the house? Support could come in the form of family members, doctors, co-workers, etc.
Or, maybe you are ready to lose some weight. Again, it might work on your own; for some people it does. But, most likely, you are going to need the support of those around you in order for it to be successful.
The same goes for challenges with mental health. If we all could just have the mental health we desire all by ourselves, 1 in 5 people would not be struggling with a diagnosable mental illness. We need to be ready for change, yes. But we also need information, and we need support.
Getting assistance for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It means you are strong because you are taking care of yourself. So, talk with a loved one, a doctor, or a therapist. Seek out support groups if those would be helpful. Join a gym and workout with others. Think back to what in the past has improved your mental health, and try to incorporate some of these things back into your life now. You are worth it!
Wishing all of you strength, courage, and peace in the year to come. Happy New Year!
Let's face it. We all have fears. One of my biggest is speaking in front of others. As a therapist, I do have great skills of speaking one-on-one and of building rapport quickly. However, if I have to speak in big groups, I am scared. My heart races, my palms get sweaty, and my hands and voice shake. I recently decided that I would like to face this fear, and so I joined Toastmasters. In a few days, I am supposed to give my first prepared speech, the "Icebreaker." I am nervous just preparing it. :) The theme of my speech, which is supposed to tell others about myself, is going to focus on my journey of realizing how similar we all are. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite authors, said, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." I plan to share how this quote seems to keep coming back to me, through experience after experience. And, in order to help me get through the first speech, I will try to remember to Breathe and Smile, more advice by Thich Nhat Hanh.
What fears do you have? How do you work on addressing those fears?
**Calligraphy Art by Bill Damon.
When you are feeling stuck, how do you decide how to make choices? Feelings, emotions, thoughts? Or, do you remain indecisive, leading to further inaction? If you are stuck and confused, try answering these questions. My guess is, as you go through these questions honestly, you will receive some guidance on what do do. Hope you all are having a great week!
Those of you who know me know that I love, love, love self-care. What is self-care? It is taking care of YOU first, so that you can then work towards your goals and other priorities. If you aren't taking care of you first, you aren't going to be able to be the best you can be, whether that is a parent, a partner, an employee, a friend, or balancing all of the above. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started. What else do you add to this list?
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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