Category Archives: Recovery Support

Busting Myths About Mental Illness

It is very possible to survive and thrive after being diagnosed with a mental illness. Nearly 20 percent of American adults will suffer from a mental illness at some point in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The condition can range from a mild, short-lived bout of depression to severe schizophrenia that may require hospitalization or lifelong medication.

As common as mental illness is though, certain myths are surprisingly persistent and prejudice continues to be widespread.  “Busting Myths About Mental Illness” on, provides insight into some of the common beliefs shown below:

  1. You can “snap out of” mental health problems. You can’t just magically think your way out of a mental illness, whether it’s mild or severe.
  2.  If you have a mental illness, you can’t hold down a job . While it’s true that those with a serious mental illness are less likely to be working, many people are able to successfully manage their conditions and find success at work.
  3. Mental health problems breed violence. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.  Although people with severe mental illness are up to three times more likely to be violent than those who are mentally healthy, they contribute to just a small part of violence in society.   And only about 3 to 5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to mental illness. In fact, researchers have found that people with mental illness are about 10 times more likely to be victimized by violence than the general population.
  4. You can’t recover from mental illness.  Many people do make it through mild or moderate episodes of mental illness and never experience them again. Others with more serious conditions are able to successfully control them and live the life they want, just like people with such chronic diseases as diabetes.

Read the full story to debunk these myths and learn this must know information.



Bridging Spirituality within Clinical Practice

On February 23rd, members of the Spirituality Initiative presented at a training entitled “Bridging Spirituality within Clinical Practice” at the SMC Ground Rounds.

Dr. Paul Yang, Dr. Farah Zaidi, Dr. Barbara Weissman, Renee Prior-Johnson, and Eduardo Tirado presented how spirituality assists clients in their recovery.   Dr. Zaidi and Dr. Yang shared two vignettes on how their clients used spirituality and the meaning it had for each of them. Both psychiatrists had encouraged them to explore the impact of spirituality in their lives. Dr. Yang urged those in attendance to be open their own personal spirituality as he believes that it assists providers in being more caring and loving, thus enables them to be more present with each client they encounter.


Ms. Prior-Johnson, who is a part of Adult Resource Management, shared two vignettes of AOD clients who she had assisted with exploring their spirituality.  This is something that she had done for years and has found it to be an effective way of encouraging and supporting a strength in each person.

Mr. Tirado shared his personal story of his continuing recovery from his addictions.  One of the comments made by an attendee was that he/she “learned more about hope” from Mr. Tirado.

Several of the attendees when asked in the evaluation what they learned said that they needed to listen more carefully to their clients and allow spirituality to be a part of the recovery process.  When asked what changes they might make in their practice several said they now felt more comfortable in talking with their clients about spirituality.

For more information about the Spirituality Initiative, visit their website.


BHRS Training Update

This BHRS training update provides information on upcoming BHRS trainings, updates on the rescheduling of WRAP and ASIST, DSM 5 training follow-up, reminder to pre-register for all BHRS trainings, reminder to complete spirituality survey, and information about outside trainings.


2-23-16: SMMC Grand Rounds–Bridging Spirituality Within Clinical Practice Panel Discussion.  This training is sponsored by the BHRS Spirituality Initiative (12:15pm-1:30pm in Room 100, 225 37th Avenue, San Mateo)

2-25-16: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Training (registration is full)

2-25-16 and 2-26-16: ASAM training (application period has ended)

3-3-16: Native American Mental Health Training (register on LMS or contact  if you do not have an LMS account)

Read more

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP): Impacting Lives

(WRAP facilitators and participants are submitting their stories to the BHRS blog to share how WRAP has impacted their lives. This first submission is by Jeanette Neal who works as a Family Partner for BHRS and is a WRAP facilitator)

“I am a survivor of multiple traumas. I never allowed those unwanted events to be the definition of whom I am or whom I wanted to become. I turned my back on those memories and always moved forward with the feeling that nothing more could ever disrupt my life because I was in control.

One mother’s day, my love, my friend, and my soul mate for life died in our back yard from an ATV accident.  At that point my life changed. The previous layered trauma, topped with the abrupt horrific death of my husband, and being sued by his family, sent me into a lonely and ill state of depression.

I lost my job and my family took over my home, my life, and my financial responsibilities to care for me.  When I began to feel better I struggled with family members to take back my responsibilities and put my home in order according to what I needed. My relationship with my siblings suffered and I had to rediscover who I was alone as me. I didn’t know what I liked, I had forgotten what it felt like to have a meal alone, and behind my smiling face I struggled with the sadness and fear that something could happen again and I had no control over it.

6 years later I was introduced to Mary Ellen Copeland’s “Wellness Recovery Action Plan” WRAP. I latched on to it because I recognized that it could relieve my constant suffering.  WRAP has given me the security to know that I have a safety net, a plan. It’s a plan that I created, a plan that I can modify as I evolve, a plan that my family members know about. WRAP helped me to rediscover what I’m like when I’m well.  WRAP is what I wake up to as I begin my day with a meditation and review my plan for the day. If I begin to identify warning signs, I can respond with my designed plan for that particular trigger. It has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself.

Although crap can have a way of presenting itself in my life, I can accept it because I have seeds planted to live with Wellness, to embrace Recovery in all its stages, to initiate my Action for continued maintenances, and have security in knowing that I have a Plan. The loveliest sunflowers I have ever experienced have grown out of a pile of fertilizer.”

Jeanette Neal

(For more information on WRAP, check out the Voices of Recovery website at:

California Clubhouse Open House – October 22

Launched in May, California Clubhouse, a new San Mateo nonprofit based on a proven international model for mental health recovery, is holding its first Open House from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at California Clubhouse, 2205 Palm Ave., in San Mateo.

Stephen Kaplan, director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services of San Mateo County, will be the featured speaker at the event’s program that starts at 4:30 p.m.

The public will also have an opportunity to tour the clubhouse, hear member testimonials, meet the staff, enjoy refreshments, and join in celebrating a community of hope, recovery and dignity for people who live with mental illness.

Based on the belief that everyone can sufficiently recover and lead better lives, California Clubhouse is a community-centered organization where people with mental illness can go every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to work on overcoming the obstacles they face. Support, training, education, healthy social interaction and positive reinforcement through collegial relationships and work are offered to the participants.  See the full story in the Mercury News or visit the Clubhouse’s website at


Nearly 100 Individuals Pledge to “Be the One” During Recovery Month

This month, nearly 100 additional individuals personally pledged to help reduce the stigma around mental health and substance use disorders in San Mateo County – to support individuals in getting the help they need. From clients, providers, family members, county staff and community members…see all their heartfelt and empowering messages of support on “Be The One.”


Stories of Hope and Recovery: Now It’s Me

Digital storytelling allow individuals to share their lived experience through a short, 3-minute video they themselves create. “Now it’s me”  is a story of a woman’s recovery as she overcomes decades of addiction and mental health challenges. Her story was created through the Lived Experience Academy where individuals have the opportunity to tell their story at community events and trainings.

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) has been capturing stories of recovery through many programs, two of which are Photovoice and Digital Storytelling. See more digital stories and photovoice posters.

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