Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week May 1-7: Finding Help, Finding Hope

Childrens Mental Health Awareness WeekThere’s a lot of activity planned for this year’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week at Swope Health Services, May 1-7.

It’s an opportunity to put a focus on what mental health looks like, said Ashley Daniels, Supervisor, Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center (CPRC) at SHS. The CPRC offers programs for children and young adults, age 5 to 24, who have a mental health diagnosis.

Mark your calendar to join the events, which are free and open to the public:

  • 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday, May 2 — We kick off the week with an information table in the SHS lobby, sharing information, answering questions and selling green stickers for $5, with the funds going to purchase resource materials — books, workbooks, therapeutic games, art supplies — for CPRC. SHS associates who buy stickers get to participate in a “jeans day” at SHS. You may also see SHS associates wearing green, the designated color for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
  • 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3 — We host an art project in the Activity Room in Building C at SHS Central. Participants will leave handprints with personal messages in a giant mural. Each personalized hand can be decorated with a positive affirmation, words that express the meaning of mental health or how to be the best person you can. We’ll share success stories and conclude the event with a festive bubble release.
  • 5-7 p.m. Thursday, May 5 — “Ask the Doctor” — a presentation by Dr. Ulisa Buckingham, Psychiatrist at SHS, followed by an open question-and-answer session. Parents and others who care for children are invited to learn about children’s mental health. This event will be held at the SHS Activity Room in Building C.

“The events are a way to decrease the stigma of mental health while showcasing the talents we see in these kiddos,” Ashley said. “We want to give them a platform to be awesome.”

Ashley Daniels

Ashley Daniels shows some of the materials in the “intervention closet,” a resource for children and young adults in the CPRC programs at SHS.

The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health sponsors the annual week to create a national dialog about the importance of children’s mental health care. One in five children suffer from a mental health challenge, the federation reports, but nationally less than 20 percent of those affected get the support and services they need.

“We want to move away from the stigma,” Ashley explained. “A mental health diagnosis is like any other diagnosis, like asthma — it’s something to be treated, something you learn to cope with.”

The CPRC behavioral health program at SHS offers three lanes of treatment for children and young people with mental health challenges: Case management, outpatient therapy services, and medication therapy:

  • Case management focuses on education in areas like problem solving, coping skills, communications skills, social skills, aggression and anger, suicidal and homicidal thoughts.
  • Outpatient therapy services uncover the feelings or triggers behind the behaviors — for example, uncovering a trauma or other underlying situation.
  • Medication therapy uses prescription medicines to treat depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for example. Medication therapy is usually used along with case management and therapy services.

CPRC’s programs give children new experiences in a new environment, customized by age group and for each individual’s specific needs. “We teach them different, positive ways to express themselves,” Ashley said.


Plan on joining us as we celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week! Wear green, join our events, leave a comment below or come visit us with your questions! Call (816) 922-1070 to make an appointment.

Time For A Check Up On Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Were you among the millions of people who used the new year as a reason to turn over a new leaf? Maybe you resolved to lose weight, stop smoking, or exercise more? Or maybe you adopted a theme or word that you want to represent?

You might also be among the millions who’ve stopped short of meeting your goal.

Take heart! Statistics show that it takes from two weeks to eight weeks to develop a new habit. Polls show that most people drop their resolutions within two weeks.

Instead of dropping your good intentions, vow to renew your resolutions. Some psychologists recommend that you renew your resolution every quarter — that keeps your goal top of mind and gives you a better chance of success.

Rosemary Griffith

Rosemary Griffith

Rosemary Griffith, Clinical Manager in Behavioral Health, understands the need for patience and persistence in developing new habits. Some changes, such as those brought about through prescription medications, for example, can take a full 21 to 30 days to be incorporated into the body.

“It takes just an instant to think about a goal, but it will take at least two weeks to develop a new habit,” she says. “We have a culture that expects immediate results and if we don’t see change, we tend to drop it.”

Griffith has more than 43 years of experience counseling and helping people overcome challenges. She has seen the power of motivation and positive visualization in bringing about changes — including in situations of substance abuse and conditions like schizophrenia and diabetes. She enjoys her role in providing positive encouragement and helping patients keep focused on their goals.

Here are some of Griffith’s tips for success with a resolution:

  • Be realistic in your goals. Set specific goals that you can actually stick with and control. When one woman set a goal of losing 80 pounds in four months, Griffith calculated what that would require — and showed that it was likely unattainable and certainly unhealthy. Instead, she counseled the woman to set a goal for 30 days, for example, to eat a vegetable every day or walk three times a week. Then re-set the goal for the next month.
  • resolutionsFind a motivation. It might be visualizing yourself in a particular outfit and working toward that. It might be imagining yourself with new capabilities — being stronger, enjoying a sport, spending more time with children. Find something positive that will help you keep a focus on the outcome of your new habit.
  • Be patient with yourself. Even though our culture sets expectations for immediate results, not everything works like that. Recognize that you might hit a bump in the road. If you fall off your plan, get back on it and try again.
  • Remove temptation. If your commitment to change involves substance abuse, alcoholism or excess indulgences (like overeating), it’s a good idea to remove yourself from an environment that offers those temptations. This is where having a support group, or a sponsor, can make a big difference. They both offer you a sense of camaraderie and can help you stick to your goals if they know what you’re trying to achieve. When tempted, reach out to them for encouragement instead of reaching for the thing you’re trying to avoid.

The most important thing, Griffith says, is to believe in yourself.

“You have to believe that you are valuable, that you have a purpose,” she says. “You are not a statistic. You are worth fighting for.”

Have you kept your resolutions for better health? If not, take a positive step by calling us for an appointment — even a same-day walk in — at 816-923-5800. We’re here to help. Your comments are welcome below.

A Fresh Start: Finding Focus In 2016

By Debbie Lidzy, MA, LPC, Access Crisis Intervention Supervisor, Behavioral Health-Community Support

The New Year — it always sounds so promising, doesn’t it? A new calendar, a fresh start.

It can be a good time to make changes in your life. After all, that’s why people make “New Year’s Resolutions.”

But most people also find that there’s nothing magical about a New Year’s Resolution and that change doesn’t come without real effort.

Here’s a different way you could approach creating a change in your life.

LIVEPick a word or theme as your focus for the year.

It could be gratitude, generosity, grace or kindness — or any attribute that you want to own.

If you choose respect, for example, you might practice it by making a point of greeting everyone you encounter, a simple act that recognizes each person as another human being like you.

For gratitude, you might make a point of pausing at least once a day to recognize and appreciate the positives in your life. You might practice looking for good things in others, giving positive comments, or learning how to accept a compliment yourself.

By associating yourself and your behaviors with your chosen word or theme every day, those actions become part of you. You can keep your word top of mind in challenging situations and take time to think about putting it into action in new ways.

Remember, real change is never as easy as it sounds. Be gentle with yourself if you forget occasionally! Use a mistake as a chance to figure out how to react differently the next time.

By embracing your chosen word and acting on it, you make yourself a role model for it.

Would you like help in making changes in your life? Visit SHS for support with challenges like substance abuse, depression, anxiety and other mental-health related issues. Please contact us at 816-922-1070.

Let’s Think Differently About Mental Health Disorders

By Debbie Mizer, MA, LPC, Access Crisis Intervention Supervisor, Behavioral Health-Community Support

Imagine for a minute — what if we lived in a world where…

  • Mental health gets the same attention and respect as physical health;
  • No one is afraid to seek or receive support for mental health disorders; and
  • Everyone has access to high quality treatment?

That’s what we’re working on here at Swope Health Services.

Substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other mental health-related issues affect people of all ages, races and income levels. With nearly 43 million Americans facing mental health-related issues every year, it’s time we change the way mental health is viewed in the United States.

No matter what people say or how society portrays it, mental illness is just as real as physical illness. It can cause the same amount of pain as a physical illness and can interfere with our daily lives. It can also be treated.

National Suicide PreventionWhat can you do?

Start by participating — come visit us at SHS where every patient is assessed for depression. Patients who need support are referred to the resources they need — whether it’s a therapist, psychiatrist, substance abuse counselor, case worker or crisis intervention specialist.

You can also call the ACI Mental Health Crisis Line at 1-888-279-8188. The line is answered 24 hours a day to help you quickly get appointments with behavioral health providers in the Kansas City Metro area.

Another option is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Please know we are here to help you but we can only help when we know you’re hurting. There’s no shame in saying you are hurting. If you need help, please contact us at 816-922-1070.

For more information

(Note: The following links are provided as a convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by SHS.)

Learn more about depression and related mental health issues at the following websites:

Do you have a question or comment? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

What Does a Behavioral Health Consultant Do?

Teresa Cooley-BennettBy Teresa Cooley-Bennett, Behavioral Health Consultant, Swope Health Services

When I joined Swope Health Services in 2015, the position of “Behavioral Health Consultant” was new to me.

The position sounded very exciting and I realized I was going to learn a lot of new things and widen my scope of practice. At the same time, I would be working with people experiencing homelessness — a population to which I am committed.

Getting started, I spent hours in online training. I discovered that the term and position of Behavioral Health Consultant is a fairly new one in the United States. Social Workers have been around for years, but Behavioral Health Consultants have been around less than 20 years. In Missouri, the term is even newer.

Integrated Care: A Behavioral Health Consultant is part of “Integrated Care.” That means integrating primary health care and mental health care, taking care of the whole person. Studies have been done on the importance of integrating behavioral health with primary health care.

Research shows a medical provider is the first point of contact for a client who needs any medical services. But most providers are scheduled to see patients for about 15 minutes each. They don’t have the time or training to provide intensive behavioral health assistance.

That’s where I come in. I have the time and the training to provide an appropriate intervention.

We can do more. When a provider recommends a client to me, I frequently find behavioral health concerns that have not been dealt with in the past. Often clients are stigmatized by the idea of seeking help for anxiety, depression, trauma or substance abuse. But these are real issues, and we can help.

Some examples:

  • A woman suffered from anxiety so severe that she could not stand the thought of an EKG and ran from the clinic. I learned that she could not take the bus alone and her fears were affecting her ability to function. We brought her into our programs to help her learn how to cope and practice control. It’s a long-term process.
  • A man had drinking problems and pancreatitis. He knew he had a problem, but didn’t act on my offers to help. When his drinking began to affect his job, he called back. I got him into a Medical Detox Center and then into the Imani House Drug and Alcohol Treatment with SHS. He called me only to say thank you and I could hear the gratitude in his voice. I am not saying that he will never drink again, but for the first time, he actually began treatment and was able to be assisted medically!
  • While on our SHS Mobile Medical Unit, I met a man who was homeless and staying in a shelter. He was highly nervous and admitted hearing voices and having homicidal thoughts in the past. He had been emotionally abused earlier in his life, recently lost his grandma, was separated from his children. We talked and he is willing to consider long-term care. We will see if our Community Support Services programs are right for him.
  • A provider referred a woman to me — she had several medical problems but also was in an abusive relationship with the same person who was her caregiver. She was afraid to leave because she had a dog, and I saw that was very therapeutic for her but also challenging as many shelters won’t take pets. We were able to refer her for support with her medical and behavioral issues, and she is following recommendations.

It is exciting and challenging to be able to intervene with a client who has behavioral health concerns. It makes a difference, and that is the reward we all share.

Have questions for Terri? You can leave a comment below, visit the Blue Clinic at SHS Central, or call 816-922-1070 to make an appointment.

Meet Behavioral Health Consultant Teresa Cooley-Bennett

Teresa Cooley-BennettI began working at Swope Health Services in January 2015 as a consultant to the Primary Care Clinics. You can find me in the Blue Clinic in the Outreach Program, where everyone knows me as Terri.

I have worked in the Kansas City area for more than 30 years. In 1989, I felt called to work with the homeless and poor and my work has focused on this population ever since.

I have worked specifically with populations who have experienced homelessness, trauma, abuse, sexual exploitation, drug and alcohol use disorders, and mental illness. I work with all age groups — men, women and children.

I love what I do and I love the people I work with.

My background prepared me for this work: I have a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Missouri) and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (Kansas). I also have certification from the Missouri Credentialing Board and am a Co-Occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomate (CCDP-D).

I have supervised students from different universities, as well as staff in different organizations, and other professionals working under me in private practice. My private practice focused on working with the population experiencing homelessness, mostly Medicaid and Medicare clientele.

Working for social change: I enjoy functioning in leadership positions as well as having a role in social and agency change that benefits clients and staff.

I have been on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers for several years. I was the Chairperson for the Homeless Services Coalition before it officially became a not-for-profit agency and served on the board when the coalition applied for not-for-profit status.

I enjoy educating and helping others. I have been a regular speaker for area and national professional organizations including the Missouri Department of Mental Health, New Directions Behavioral Health, the National Association of Social Workers, and others.

I am an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer for the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. I am currently teaching Human Behavior in the Social Environment. In the spring, I’ll teach Community and Organizational Dynamics and Human Behavior.

In our next post, Terri talks about her role as a Behavioral Health Consultant. Have questions for Terri? You can leave a comment below, visit the Blue Clinic at SHS Central, or call 816-922-1070 to make an appointment.

Legacy of Compassion May 15 Luncheon Event

MHM2015As part of our celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, Swope Health Services is proud to host a luncheon with Dr. Karmen Smith, who will speak on “A Legacy of Compassion.”

Dr. Smith’s presentation will describe the career and philosophy of her mother, Kanzetta Harris, a former social worker with Swope Health Services. The Kanzetta Harris House, named in her honor, is one of four group homes operated by Swope Health Services for adults with chronic mental illness.

The event will be held at noon, Friday, May 15 at Swope Central, 3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, MO. It’s free and open to the public.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Karmen Smith is coming to present information on her mother’s legacy to Swope Health Services,” said Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Swope Health Services. “We’re really happy to have her.”

Dr. Smith, a licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in divinity/pastoral counseling, will describe the importance of treating patients as we would like to be treated — with respect, kindness and support. She is a trauma specialist with more than 20 years experience in child welfare in Las Vegas.

For more information about SHS Behavioral Health services, click here.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Leadership-Mark-MillerI’m Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and I welcome the opportunity to highlight this important aspect of our lives.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that, every year, one in four adults in the U.S. experience a mental health problem.  The sad thing is that many who suffer a mental illness wait for years after their symptoms first appear before seeking help.  Or, never get help at all.


Well, for one thing, there is still a stigma associated with mental illness.  Those so challenged are afraid to be labeled a weak person or lacking character. But, in most cases, mental illness is a medical condition that, if treated in a timely way, can be managed with counseling and/or medication.

So, please, if you or someone you know needs help, don’t wait to reach out for it.  Early identification and treatment can make a big difference.

Learn more about SHS Behavioral Health Services.

Mental Health Awareness Month