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Kalamazoo Community Working to Break Stigmas Surrounding African American Mental Health

"African American believe that diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke are the key issues in their health but the primary issue is their mental health," Cunningham said. Our specific passion is African Americans because there are stigmas and shame associated with getting the help that is needed."

  

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African American Symposium A Success

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I want to say a big “Thank You” to everyone involved with the 2019 Breaking the Stigma African American Mental Health Symposium. From our hard-working volunteers, to the 250+ people who attended the event, YOU all started the conversation about mental health for African Americans in our community. Let's keep it going!

 

The symposium provided a day-long microscopic examination of the stigmas affecting African Americans in today’s society through a combination of breakouts, keynote speakers, and a panel discussion. Keynote speakers Dr. Arthur R. James and Jeff Patton joined others from the mental health community to bring awareness to the topic and to start the conversation.

 

Let's keep the conversation going well into 2020! Mark your calendars NOW for the 2020 Breaking the Stigma African American Mental Health Symposium.

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Suicide Impact Us All

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I’ve had my own experience with a relative committing suicide at 19 years old. It was devastating to the entire family. 

 

Everybody always asks the question, “How come I didn’t see this coming?” or “I didn’t know they were going through "it" or having a hard time. If only I'd known…” Sometimes it's someone we know well; other times it's an acquaintance or casual friend. 

In those cases, we often wish we would have know the person more and understood their feelings so we could have somehow prevented them from doing it, but we couldn't. 

 

Before a person attempts suicide they typically struggle with some form of depression or with a problem in life that they think is overwhelming. So in a way, suicide becomes the way to "solve" the problem. 

 

We've listed some typical signs of depression and indicators of suicidal behavior. If someone you know is struggling, help is available. Our clinical staff is highly specialized. Reach out to us for an appointment or evaluation by calling 269-323-1954. Before a person attempts suicide they typically struggle with some form of depression or with a problem in life that they think is overwhelming. So in a way, suicide becomes the way to "solve" the problem.  We've listed some typical signs of depression and indicators of suicidal behavior. If someone you know is struggling, help is available. Our clinical staff is highly specialized. Reach out to us for an appointment or evaluation by calling 269-323-1954.

 

  • Making statements about suicide, for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"

  • Buying a gun or stockpiling pills

  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone

  • Having severe mood swings daily

  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence

  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation

  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs

  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns

  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as increased use of drugs or alcohol

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Impact Stories

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Nothing! That’s right, nothing! Just six months ago this was all I was left with. Substance abuse disorder, domestic violence, and a slew of health conditions had ravaged me. I lost everything from cars to housing, my sanity and integrity, my driver’s license and more importantly my seven year old son. 

 

It was only through coordination of care by the rehab center that I fell heavily into the open arms of The Synergy Health Center. After graduating rehab I was sent to a recovery house ran by one of SHC's recovery coaches. This is where the real healing started taking place. The services I received at SHC included a recovery coach, an individual therapist and an Intensive Outpatient Program. Perhaps my entire life I’d never come across so many loving and genuine people. That was key to me truly accepting I had to change my entire way of living. 

SHC unwavering support held me up during intense cravings and withdrawals. I would get them so bad in the middle of IOP the only thing that helped was the facilitator taking the time to talk me back into the moment. This happened, what seemed like countless times until once day it got easier. I remember that day because it was the moment in time where my thinking started to change. It changed from a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts to that of a soldier in training. I realized I had to combat my own mind by putting into practice all the knowledge and coping skills taught by SHC. 

 

Slowly I understood what support looked like, what obedience looked like and what healthy behavior looked like... 

 

This was working!

Mind Health Moments