May is #MentalHealthMonth! Mental Health Month is about raising awareness of mental health, fighting stigma, educating the broader public, and advocating to support people with mental illness and their families. This month, we’re standing with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “You Are Not Alone” campaign – by sharing the stories of people affected by mental illness, as well as the stories of our Behavioral Health staff.
Victoria graduated from UMBC with a Bachelor’s Degree in History, she loves animals (she has a pet tarantula named Athena, as well as pet cats!), and has been working at Humanim for 7 months in our Transition Aged Youth (TAY) Program.
Victoria got into the Behavioral Health field because as she was working to become an elementary school teacher, she noticed that some students seemed to be easily overlooked in the classroom. She says, “I started to work with the younger clients and found myself drawn into the world of mental health, with all of its twists and turns, its good moments and its rough patches. I thought back to the students who needed extra help in the classroom and realized that this is where they can receive those skills to get on their feet and out into the world.”
Her favorite part of working in the TAY Program is “watching a client master a skill that gets them one step closer to being able to live on their own, and knowing that I helped them even the tiniest bit towards their independence.”
Thanks to Victoria for all the work she does to empower individuals, support others to know they are #NotAlone, and represent Humanim’s mission every day.
Tasha is the Community Support Specialist in our McKinney supported housing Program and has been a part of #TeamHumanim for almost a year and a half. Tasha decided to work in the Human Services field after her own experience with mental health. “I am a domestic violence survivor, and I know first-hand how your life can change drastically from trauma. It took years for me to overcome the depression, anxiety, and PTSD that I have endured. If it wasn’t for the amazing providers that I had obtained throughout the years, I would have been lost. It was after my healing process that I decided I wanted to make that same difference in someone’s life and to show individuals that mental illness does not discriminate.”
Her favorite part of her role at Humanim is “witnessing the progress from the time they [clients] enter our program until the time they are discharged. To see how overjoyed they are when they realized they accomplished a goal that seems so unrealistic to them in the beginning – that is the most rewarding feeling.”
On the importance of mental health awareness, Tasha says, “Mental Health Awareness is important because there are so many people in the world that have a misconception of what mental illness looks like… Awareness is needed so that more people can begin to get the treatment that they need to function through life.”
Micheala is a Rehabilitation Specialist in our Psychiatric Rehabilitation Day Program (PRP) and will celebrate two years at Humanim in June! She first got into the field in college when she saw that working with people and making a positive impact intersect in behavioral health.
“I had an ‘aha’ moment. I realized I was continuously enrolling in psychology courses for my electives, and they were some of my favorite classes! I realized I could combine my two interests – my current Deaf Studies major with a Psychology major… Humanim was recommended for my senior internship. I identified with the mission and applied, the rest is history.”
Micheala enjoys working at Humanim because of “the variety and the people. Every day is different, I get to come in, have new experiences, and learn different things. Plus, the people are great, it’s an amazing feeling coming in, building a good report with people, and seeing that positive impact every day.”
On the topic of mental health, Micheala says, “I believe mental health awareness is important because mental health is such a crucial part of an individual’s life and well-being that is so often overlooked. Historically, unfamiliarity and stigma about mental health have prevented so many people from getting the help they need. Hopefully, by continuing to raise awareness we can limit and eventually erase those negative impacts, and being active in one’s mental health will be synonymous with physical health.”
Thank you to Micheala for working hard to make a positive impact every day, and helping others know they are #NotAlone – we’re glad to have you on #TeamHumanim!
Melissa works in the Health Homes program in our Behavioral Health Department, and has been at Humanim for 23 years! She first got into the behavioral health field through her own journey with mental health. “I’ve had depression since my early teens, but I didn’t always know that’s what it was. I just knew I tended to feel sad more often than not. I think I was drawn to this field as a way of trying to understand myself, but also because I wanted to help people. It was after I started working here and seeing glimpses of myself in clients that I realized that I was experiencing depression, and finally got treatment. So I guess you could say that my personal experience with depression led me to this field and Humanim and that working here led me to understand and get treatment for my depression!”
On what she enjoys most about working at Humanim, she says, “Considering how long I’ve worked here, I’ve had the opportunity to see clients’ growth from the time they entered the program… It’s amazing to see their growth, and I consider myself lucky to be able to witness that kind of transformation in their lives. At this point in my career, I’ve worked with nearly all of our [behavioral health] clients in some capacity, and it’s rewarding to see their progress, and to know that I might have played a small part in helping them during their journey.”
When asked about the importance of mental health, Melissa says, “There are still so many people out there who don’t understand mental illness, but unfortunately, the media does a wonderful job maintaining the stigma associated with it, thus continuing the negative perception many hold about mental illness. This impacts a person’s willingness to seek treatment, no matter how badly it might be needed. It’s up to us to share our experiences and to help normalize mental illness so that hopefully it will eventually be seen as a disease that is no different than diabetes and heart disease—a medical condition that requires treatment to manage.”
Thank you to Melissa for her dedication, 23 years of services at Humanim, and commitment to helping others know that they are #NotAlone.