Links we Love: June 2018

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In recent months, many public figures came forward and discussed their experience with mental health in major news outlets across the country. Here are some resources we found inspiring:

Morton Bakar Center "Goes Wild" for National Nursing Home Week

National Nursing Home Week was recognized from May 13-19 and is celebrated annually at Telecare's Morton Bakar Center. Each day of the week was centralized around a theme. On Wednesday, May 15, the team celebrated "MBC Goes Wild" — staff dressed up in safari gear and animal print while others brought their pets into work. Birds, dogs, and bunnies paraded through the building throughout the day so that residents could touch and play with them.

One staff member was able to bring her relative's horse, Jugete ("toy" in Spanish), to MBC for the residents to interact with. MBC had never brought Jugete in before, and it was such a special treat for residents and staff alike to touch and take photos with the horse. They opened up the back patio area for the horse to stand in and for residents to be able to view and play with the horse safely. Residents of MBC were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

How to Fill in a Garden with Gratitude (and Ditch the Dirt)

Telecare Gratitude Garden

As mental health service providers, the benefits of practicing gratitude have been on our radar for quite some time. Research tells us by taking time to cultivate a regular practice, gratitude improves sleeping habits, lowers blood pressure, and can significantly increase life satisfaction and a sense of wellbeing.

At Telecare, we wanted to create an environment for gratitude to thrive. For most people, the biggest challenge of practicing gratitude is finding the time. We wanted to find a way to help our staff and members easily practice gratitude. What we found was even better: a simple way to practice gratitude and connect with others that also promotes a healing environment. We planted a Gratitude Garden.

What is a Gratitude Garden?

Unlike an actual garden, a Gratitude Garden includes far less dirt and worms. The idea stems from two women who created Gratitude Blooming, a card deck with handwritten themes based in nature to inspire mindful reflection. They expanded their idea to create a Gratitude Garden Kit, "a playful and interactive gratitude experience designed to create inviting spaces for people to contribute their seeds of gratitude and wisdom with the messages they leave behind."

Each kit contains a poster and postcards featuring the designs from their card deck with a prompt written on them. The kits vary in the number of items and price and have corporate and community options available.

"I was at the solar eclipse last year in Oregon and sat beside people pulling cards from an unusual looking deck," said Shannon Mong, Director of Innovation Initiatives. "I'm a curious person, so I asked what they were. They told me to pull a card, and I got one with a beautiful flower on it and that said destiny. I’m like, okay, here we go."

Growing Gratitude


Inspired by the healing properties gratitude and nature have, Shannon got together with the women (who happened to live nearby Telecare's corporate office – destiny!) and discussed putting a larger project together, one that both staff and members could use to find a common platform, break down barriers around education or personal experience, and generate engagement with gratitude.

Fifteen Telecare programs volunteered to feature one poster a month at their program and plant "seeds" of gratitude with members by writing messages and posting them around their poster. 

Highlights from the Field

Our Gratitude Garden pilot ended in April. (Need info on what next steps are.) Many programs plan on continuing tending to their garden. Here are some of the things shared by our program staff who participated in the pilot:

  • "People who never talk in our group sessions were sharing stories and opening up with their peers. By the end, they were were having conversations without the facilitators." – Melissa Planas, Clinical Director at TEIR, a community-based Transition Aged Youth program in Stockton, California.
  • "When we first took the idea to members, the response to ‘gratitude’ was instant: I’m very grateful for Telecare. It was nice to hear for the staff, because it isn’t always verbalized." – Rachel Schwartz, Administrator at Kaiser Downey, a community-based Intensive Recovery Treatment Program in Bellflower, California
  • "Clients are so happy to fill the posters with messages. One client is really involved and consistently promotes it during community meetings. The clients and staff are more positive, motivated, and engaged to one another." – Jennifer Sevilla, Director of Nursing at Gladman MHRC, a 40-bed Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in Oakland, California.         

Interested in Learning More?

RCCS Tidbit of the Month: Judgment

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The RCCS Tidbit of the Month is part of Telecare's Recovery-Centered Clinical System curriculum to reinforce a culture of recovery in mental health service programs. For more information, click here.



According to the report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, stigma is "a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses." The report also says, "Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment."

Stigma perpetuates two significant myths about people with mental illnesses: 1) They are violent and 2) They do not recover from their mental illness.

Both are false. Studies show that, at most, mental health status contributes a trivial amount to the overall violence in society. Studies also show that people who have mental illnesses can and do recover from their illnesses.

Stigma and discrimination can have a negative impact on someone's physical and mental health care. Health care providers may not provide the necessary treatments to people with mental illnesses. For example, people with schizophrenia who are hospitalized for reasons unrelated to mental illness are at least twice as likely as patients without schizophrenia to experience medical problems associated with poor outcomes, including death. One hypothesis is that a lot of the increased risk may result from inferior medical care. For example, studies have indicated that healthcare professionals might not take the medical symptoms of people with schizophrenia seriously, leading to a delay in treatment. Mental health care providers may act coercively or impose mandatory treatment on people with mental illnesses.

So, what can you do to fight stigma? One of the first steps is to acknowledge that we all harbor some level of stigma and judgment toward others or toward ourselves. Discussing the source of those judgments can assist in fighting our myths and giving us real information to bust those myths. Participating in NAMIWalks and joining others trying to educate our society and bust stigma and myths can be energizing and raise our hope. Programs hiring and supporting Peer Staff in their important and unique roles, also reminds us all that recovery is possible.



View any or all of the videos with your team. Following the video, have a group conversation using the following questions:

  1. What about the video stood out for you?
  2. What surprised you?
  3. Can you connect or relate to anyone in the video or any of the messages you took from the video?
  4. Did you find yourself feeling judgment or stigma about anyone in the video? Why do you think? View the videos with clients/members and have a similar