Archive for category: Blog

Lived Experience: Suicide Prevention Awareness

By Hunter Robbins
Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services

September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a time to highlight the work being done to prevent suicide, spread awareness about helpful initiatives, and share resources within our communities. It is also a time to remember the importance of those with lived experience.

Lived experience as it pertains to suicide usually means one of two things: either you have lost someone to suicide (a survivor of suicide), or you have attempted suicide yourself and survived. Unfortunately, when we talk about suicide, those with lived experience are often left out of the conversation. Being a survivor of any traumatic experience is not easy. In 2018, there were 48,433 Americans who died by suicide, and a staggering 1.4 million who attempted suicide. To add to that, studies show that for every death by suicide, there are up to 135 people who can be affected by it. This means that in 2018, up to 8 million people could be considered to have lived experience.

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Combating Social Isolation in Children During COVID-19

By Tamra Williams, Ph.D.
Deputy Chief Clinical Officer—Children’s Services
Community Behavioral Health
Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services

For children, one of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a decrease in opportunities to interact with their peers in traditional and important ways. Restrictions on face-to-face interactions with peers and playmates and more time spent indoors translate, for some children, into stress and frustration that affects their emotional and behavioral health.

From a developmental perspective, we know that play and peer interaction is important for young children. It helps with social skills, moral reasoning, and cognitive development. Moreover, children staying home 24/7 can add an additional layer of stress to parents, chipping away at their emotional reserves and ability to parent effectively. How can we combat the loss of playtime and the increased stress on parents?

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Camp Program Benefits Kids with Behavioral Disabilities

Hannah Anolik, DBHIDS Summer 2019 Intern

Between the ages of 7 and 11, I “lived 10 months for two” – meaning I was obsessed with summer camp. I lived the other 10 months of the year just for those two months at camp.

Seeing my summertime best friends every day and having (what we thought of as) no rules and pure fun always felt like an escape from reality. Now, a decade or so later, I realize it was during those carefree, hot, summer days that I developed into who I am today and learning about myself.

Summer camp may just seem like a way to get kids out of the house, but it is much more than that.

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‘I AM …’: Speaker works to empower Philly preteens, July 2019

Donovan Forrest, DBHIDS Summer 2019 Intern

Young Philadelphia boys and girls screamed their positive messages about themselves for all to hear when Donovan Forrest brought his message to them this month at Ace Camp in West Philadelphia. Ace Camp participates with the Madeline Moore Summer Camp Grant program offered by DBHIDS.

Forrest, executive director of DonCARES of Philadelphia, worked with DBHIDS Operations/Fiscal (OpsFis) unit this summer through the Mayor’s Internship Program. His activities included visits to local area summer camps that partner with the grant program.

Forrest was asked to speak to 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds July 1 at the summer program hosted at Martha Washington Elementary School, 766 N. 44th St. in the Belmont neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 2018

Ava Ashley, Manager, DBHIDS Trauma Unit

Cabrini University held its 8th annual Domestic Violence symposium that year and the theme was “Trauma and Trafficking”. This annual symposium is sponsored by the Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education, whose purpose is to promote social change through professional development, training, education, and research to end domestic violence and support children exposed to trauma. The Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education at Cabrini University. Visit the Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education.

Domestic Violence Symposium logo - Cabrini University - October 2018

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21st Annual “Making a Difference” Recognition Dinner

The Mayor’s Commission on Addiction and Recovery, in conjunction with DBHIDS, sponsored the 21st annual “Making a Difference” Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The purpose of the event was to publicly acknowledge the tireless efforts of organizations and individuals who work or volunteer to tackle substance use challenges in Philadelphia.

The Mayor’s Commission on Addiction and Recovery is lead by Chairperson James P. Baker Jr., President and CEO of Baker & Company, LLC. Judith Porter, Ph.D., professor emeritus of sociology at Bryn Mawr College, is vice chairperson. Other members of the commission are Jeannine L. Lisitski, Darlene V. Miller, George D. Mosee, Jr., Pascal Scoles, James Shepard, M.D., and Minister Glenn Wilson.

The 2018 honorees were:

Treatment Provider: Akia Feggans (Clinical Program Director, Philadelphia Fight TREE Intensive Outpatient Program)

Community Organization: Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church Deliverance Ministry

Community Person: Thomas J. Nestel III (Chief, SEPTA Transit Police)

Service Innovation: Curtis Watkins (Chief of Adult Services, Defenders Association of Philadelphia)

Special Recognition: Elvis Rosado (Education and Community Outreach Coordinator, Prevention Point Philadelphia)

NBC10 reporter Harry Hairston served as the event emcee and Philadelphia Mayor James F. Kenney delivered remarks.

DBHIDS Offers Help to Our Community on National Depression Screening Day

By David T. Jones

According to Mental Health America, one of the nation’s leading community-based nonprofits dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness, one in five adults have a mental health condition — that’s more than 40 million Americans, or the populations of New York and Florida combined.

One of the most prevalent mental health conditions is depression, a disease of the mind that, if untreated, can have severe or even fatal effects on those who live with it, the people who know and love them, and even innocent strangers. That’s why we were pleased to once again participate in the 2017 National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) on Thursday, October 5. Held each October during Mental Illness Awareness Week, NDSD features of variety of events and awareness activities such as free depression screening. Throughout the day, DBHIDS staff and our partners were stationed in nearly 20 sites across the city offering people an opportunity to get a “check-up from the neck up” because we wholeheartedly believe that a person’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. In all, more than 100 people received a free screening through our NDSD event, getting access to services and information to help assess the state of their mental health.

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Philadelphians Share Their Stories About How the ACA Has Helped Them

By Josh Kruger
Department of Public HealthOffice of the Mayor
A father sits in a hospital waiting room with his young son resting on his lap.

More than 200,000 Philadelphians benefit from the Affordable Care Act — more than 160,000 through the Medicaid expansion and about 60,000 through the ACA’s marketplace.

If the ACA is repealed, these people could all lose their health insurance and have no way to pay for medical care.

They’re not the only ones who’ll be affected, either. If Congress repeals the ACA, most adults and children in Philadelphia who have private healthcare coverage will lose protections the ACA provides. Protection like no-cost preventive care, coverage of preexisting conditions, and equal coverage of behavioral health issues like addiction.

The stakes are high for all of us.

We asked Philadelphians to share their stories. Here’s what a few of you had to say. Read more

Collaboration Can Lead to Change

By David T. Jones

What’s happening along Gurney Street is something to be celebrated.

In just over two weeks since the clean-up project began along a stretch of land owned by Conrail in the Kensington-Fairhill community, more than 250 tons of waste and debris have been removed and fencing is going up to prevent people from becoming injured on or near the railroad tracks.  In addition, the fencing serves as a barrier to prevent gathering in the area where folks had engaged in dangerous and unhealthy behavior.  In this instance the “C “word, collaboration between City agencies and private partners, has made the difference — the once blighted landscape is no more.

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Homeless Safety a Heightened Issue During Summer Months

By David T. Jones
Acting Commissioner,

Summer is here –- at last -– and for many people, thoughts turn to fun family getaways, sitting out by the pool or on the beach and sweet treats like ice cream or water ice to cool us down. But for people who are living on the street, these options of summer escapes aren’t so readily accessible.

Hundreds of people experience periods of street homelessness in Philadelphia, using street corners, transit hubs and parks as shelter. Heavily-traveled areas, particularly in and around Center City, reveal the faces of this sad reality. And while being homeless can be devastating enough for an individual, the problem is only compounded for those who are also living with an untreated mental illness, addiction, or both.

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