STEPS Orange County Spruces Up Santa Ana

Three staff members and 17 members from the STEPS Orange County participated in the Love Santa Ana Initiative Day of Community Beautification event on Saturday, April 8.

The volunteer event aimed to improve and transform the Casa Bonita and Bella Vista neighborhoods through service activities such as painting fences, murals, gardening, planting trees, removing graffiti, and picking up trash.

One STEPS member enjoyed the painting so much, he said he would like to look for a job as a house painter now that he knows how much he likes it, while another member said she felt a sense of importance from helping others. Staff member Nhi Thai was even interviewed by a local TV news channel about the day's events.

Once the volunteering was done, the group got to partake in resource fair activities, which included music, games, and other fun festivities.

Great work, team STEPS Orange County!

Nursing Skills Fair at La Casa!

This year La Casa’s nursing department participated in a Nursing Skills Fair as an alternative method for meeting difficult training requirements. With a St Patrick’s Day theme, participants enjoyed fun activities with giveaways and games. The event took about two hours to complete, however, it was offered from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so all shifts could participate.

“The wonderful part about this event is that the nursing staff could ask questions on a one-to-one basis about very important skills they use on a daily basis,” said Director of Staff Development, Nona Hall-Sandoval.

Although music and food added to the ambiance, the event was not all fun and games. “We were asked questions and asked to demonstrate our skills in order to test our level of competency in areas like Pro-Act, head to toe assessment, and vital signs. Some of it was challenging!” remembers Mali So, Nurse Supervisor.

In order to have qualified individuals as trainers, registered nurse house supervisors, the Director of Staff Development, the Director of Facilities, a ward clerk, a 17-year rehabilitation department veteran, and a Mental Health Worker II were used as content experts. Cerritos College Nursing students also helped out with each table including the registration table.

“Our favorite activity was the diversity table where we got to make beaded necklaces that represented the diversity of our lives. It was eye opening that our life is actually very diverse,” said Danette Calloway and Brandy Rerucha.

More than 100 employees successfully completed the fair. “This event could not have happened without the teamwork and cooperation of all departments, leadership, and staff. It was a true success,” said Nona. This is the second-annual Nursing Skills Fair and La Casa is excited to make this an annual tradition.

Riverside County PHF & CSU Attend Suicide Prevention Walk

On April 1, staff from Telecare’s Riverside County Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) and Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk in Palm Desert, CA.

The Out of the Darkness Walk honors those who have been lost to suicide, and raises suicide awareness and prevention. The event this year included a resource fair, a remembrance tent for survivors of suicide loss, and a “messages of hope” area for survivors and supports to share kind words and create a community of caring.

The colors that the staff wore paid tribute to a personal struggle, loss, or awareness: 

  • Blue for suicide prevention support
  • Purple for loss of a loved one or relative
  • Green for personal attempt

It was a great event in which the Telecare staff was participated with pride.

Stults House Decorates their Activity Room

Telecare’s Stults House program in Portland, Oregon recently spiffed up their activity room by adding a beautiful, completely original, scenic mural painted by staff and residents. They started with an image of the Columbia Gorge as a guide, with each participant adding their personal creativity.

When asked what would be a good title for the mural, residents suggested calling it Sunrise, The River, or Coming Together to Paint.

“We all took part in something great. It increased our bond for something special,” said one resident.

Another resident said watching the paint and looking at it after was their favorite part, while another’s was painting the sunrise.

The mural is on a wall in the art and activity room of the five-bed residential program, where Recovery Specialist Dani Dierking regularly facilitates art therapy groups.

Art therapy is a powerful vehicle for communication for those with mental illness. It can allow for residents to develop greater insight into themselves, their lives, and their recovery,” said Dani. “It can be used to help residents learn to self-regulate and to organize their thoughts. It also is an excellent way to help residents learn the social skills to support one another through creating art, which was exemplified in this mural project.”

Overall, it was a fantastic effort by all and an awesome example of Telecare’s RCCS and the recovery model in action.

A big thank you to all the staff and residents that created such beautiful imagery for their program, as well as Dani for submitting the story!

Links We Love

  • Every two years, Alameda County's EveryOne Home sets out to conduct a point-in-time homeless count in the county. The group and volunteers go out into the community and provide survey questionnaires to those who are living outdoors. The data collected from the survey is used to help the county better serve the homeless.
  • From funny to brutally honest, Buzzfeed has a list of 29 young adult books about mental health that are a perfect gift idea.
  • The Senate has passed HR 34, or the 21st Century Cures Act. According to NAMI, HR 34 contains a number of provisions designed to improve access to needed care and foster recovery, which could prevent consequences from lack of mental health care such as homelessness, hospitalizations, suicides, and unnecessary incarceration. 

Using Art to Overcome Tough Times

For many members, finding inspiration in recovery can be difficult, especially when things that are supposed to help, like medication, can cause discouraging side effects. The Recovery Center at Woodburn (RCW) in Oregon understands that there are challenges in recovery, and takes the time to work with members so they can overcome these hardships.

Sarah Lahey, a Rehab Therapist at RCW, has shared with us a story about Robert, a resident at Woodburn for the past two years, who was able to find a way to balance getting better and continuing doing what he loves: art.  

This month, Robert was featured in a local art show. He shares about his recovery process and inspiration through his artist biography below.


Robert is a self-taught artist and contemporary painter from Woodburn, Oregon. His love for art started five years ago following a dark period of recovery and adjustment from a disability. An unfortunate side effect of the medications he needed for his treatment caused severe hand tremors, which he still has today. Although this was a challenging time in Robert’s life, through perseverance and a self-taught technique of bracing his hands on the surface of the canvas, he found joy in the one area he initially had very little control over: painting.

Robert is a spiritual person and sees his art as a way of giving back. Although he has done a series of delicate flowers and a songbird collection, his real joy of painting centers on the childhood delight of big machinery and earth moving vehicles.

Robert’s current work displayed in this art show evokes the iconic childhood experience of playing with Matchbox cars and Tonka Trucks. There is a hopefulness to his imagery that is tied to his future goals, yet connects back to his earliest hopes and dreams: the ones where he wished he was big enough to reach the peddles, tall enough to see over the steering wheel, and trusted enough to run the equipment. His work represents every bit of being a man, being in charge, and creating or building something that he can call his own. Both in his personal life and in his paintings, Robert strives for autonomy, independence, and freedom. 

Robert has lived all over Oregon, but favors the more rural places where he has the space to dream. His paintings are acrylic on canvas and his signature works consist of bold, bright colors, playfully capturing his perspective of trucks and construction vehicles in action. This is his first show.

Holiday Art Contest Winners

We are excited to reveal our holiday card and 2017 Recovery Calendar!

We would like to give a big THANK YOU to all the programs and artists who took the time to create such lovely works of art and poetry–we wish the year was longer so everyone's art could be displayed.

Links We Love

Recovery Happens 2016

Telecare RISE participated in the Recovery Happens 2016 mental health and substance use recovery resource fair on Saturday, September 30.

The fair, sponsored by Riverside County Mental Health Department, takes place in September each year in Riverside County as a part of National Recovery Month. Recovery Happens is intended to help unite those already in recovery and spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. The event included many activities such as a dunk tank, a recovery walk, live music, free hot dogs, hamburgers, cotton candy, and an awards ceremony.  

Telecare RISE took part as one of the exhibitors to inform participants about our Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program, and to gather information and increase collaboration with county partners and contract providers in helping members achieve their goals and dreams.

Another exhibitor was Art Works, a nonprofit company that assists clients with disabilities to create and sell works of art that individuals and companies can purchase to decorate their office space. “Their services can empower our members and allow their works of art to be celebrated in the community,” said Telecare RISE Administrator Stephen Thorpe.

Anxy Magazine Seeks to Smash the Stigma

There aren’t many print mediums outside of scientific journals seeking to open up conversations around mental health-related topics. Anxy, a peer-led print magazine currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, aims to do just that—normalize the conversation about mental illness and “smash those stigmas”.

“We intend to cut through the clutter and open up conversations about those transformative moments in powerful personal narratives.” said Anxy’s Founder and Creative Director, Indhira Rojas. “Anxy exists to demonstrate that sometimes the darkest and most paralyzing experiences can have empowering ripple effects in our lives.” 

Anxy will be a bi-annual print magazine with different themes—personal struggles, loneliness, or fears, for example—paired with stunning visuals, photo essays, and personal narratives by and for people with lived experience. 

The Kickstarter campaign for Anxy ends on October 19—and they still have some little ways to go. If you feel this project is necessary, consider supporting it in a way that works for you: make a contribution, share the news within your networks, or spread the word on Facebook or Twitter.

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September's Spotlight on Mental Health

September is a busy month for generating awareness on mental health issues. Every year, SAMHSA sponsors it as National Recovery Month as a way to increase awareness and understanding of mental health issues and to celebrate those in recovery. This year, the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” People in recovery are encouraged to share their personal journeys and connect with others on SAMHSA’s forum. 

The second week of September is recognized as Suicide Prevention Week to help promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide, the third leading cause of death among young people. On September 10, 2016, we observe World Suicide Prevention Day to connect individuals affected by suicide and to raise awareness on suicidal ideation and the treatment services available.

There are a variety of events and awareness campaigns taking place around the country that you can be a part of. Below are some ideas to get you started:

Court-Ordered Care: One Man's Journey from Program Member to Staff Member

Thurman Williams (left) is handed a graduation certificate for completing the Assisted Intervention program from Judge Joe T. Perez (right).

Thurman Williams (left) is handed a graduation certificate for completing the Assisted Intervention program from Judge Joe T. Perez (right).

Graduation is a time for celebration and new beginnings. What better new beginning can come from a graduation than a slate wiped clean, a criminal record expunged? That’s what happened when Judge Joe T. Perez of the Superior Court of Orange County handed a graduation certificate to Thurman Williams. He had just completed one of the first court-ordered Assisted Intervention (AI) programs in California, which operates out of Telecare STEPS in Santa Ana.

“For me, graduation was emotional because you accomplish something that's very difficult,” said Thurman. “It’s also kind of bittersweet because you are part of a family. You go to the program every day or once a week for twenty-five months, and now I don’t have to. It was kind of strange to just go, ‘I can do whatever I want.’”

The “whatever I want” part was going back to his place of employment—Telecare TAO and TAO South. Thurman was offered a job at Telecare during Phase III of the AI program after his peer mentoring skills were recognized while going through program. He was asked to give a speech at Telecare’s 50th Anniversary party in Orange County, and was offered a job as a Wellness Center Coordinator shortly after.

“The fact that I worked for Telecare while going through an assisted intervention program—that has never, ever been done before. I didn’t even really think about becoming involved in mental health at that time,” said Thurman, who had a successful baseball career both playing for the San Francisco Giants and then continued as a coach for future major league players. “I knew I was going to always advocate for mental health afterword. I was always going to do something, but I didn’t know it would turn into this.”

Now, Thurman is a PSC I and runs groups for other members in court-ordered treatment.

“It's just basically me, as somebody who's gone through the program, kind of giving advice on how I navigated through it, and how to avoid backtracking,” said Thurman. “I want to do this. I wasn’t sure, but it’s where I need to be. This is how I had to come full circle. This is where I’m supposed to end up, I think.”

Links We Love

News you can use — and a little fun and inspiration — from around the internet and our programs, too.

Orange County STEPS COEG Success!

Telecare's 105-member, Full Service Partnership (FSP), Orange County STEPS, recently celebrated their first completion of the Co-Occurring Education Group (COEG) program. The group had a total of 51 members who attend one or more of the classes, and 15 graduates!

The graduates were given certificates for completing the program and were treated to a lunch where pizza and cake were served.

To graduate, participants had to have attended all 16 weeks of the COEG program. Each session covers a different topic of discussion: from understanding addiction, to recognizing triggers, to reflecting on one's hopes and goals. The groups are open, so new participants can join a group at any time. The flexible drop-in format, and the resources and tools that are provided at the end of each group, are meant to encourage participants to take ownership over the decisions they make about their health choices.

Congratulations to STEPS' first successful group of participants, and the staff that worked so hard to make it happen! 

SOAR's Second Annual Telecare Games

A little cool weather didn't stop the staff at SOAR from heating up the competition during their second annual Telecare games on Wednesday, June 15.

The scavenger hunt took place in Old Town Sacramento, where program staff teamed up, worked together, and acted out, to get ahead in the race.

"It was amazing to see the teams work together as well as the help members of the community," said SOAR Clinical Director Kezzia Bullen. "As a judge, the best part was the stop where the teams had to sing a railroad themed song to an actual train and capture it on video—one team even had choreography. Another clue had teams searching for a locally renowned 'mini' treat from Danny's Mini Donuts, but it proved challenging and our judges ended up with extra erroneous goodies, which was dubbed the 'pile of wrong.'" A delicious error indeed!

"At the end of the hunt, we laughed, told stories of the afternoon, and gave out the prizes over pizza," Kezzia said. "We cannot wait to do this event next year and make it even better!"

Military Appreciation at Clark County E&T

Telecare's Clark County Evaluation and Treatment (E&T) program in Vancouver, WA, celebrated their military folks for the month of May by bringing in photos of family members who've served to post on the program's bulletin board.

The men and women featured served as a Belly/Top Gunner (who crash landed three times, breaking his nose each time!), Cobol Programmer, Recovery Specialist and Mechanic, Command Post Dispatcher, C-17 Cargo Plane Load Master, Morse Code Interpreter and Security Service, and a Corporal in the Spanish War. 

Each person was stationed in various places around the United States, as well as abroad in Cuba, Iraq, Niger, Germany, Japan, Guam, and Thailand. Their service has spanned from 1898 to present, and included serving time during the Spanish War, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, and Peace Time.  

Much thanks to all the service men and women, past and present, and to those who will choose to serve in the future!