Weekly Update 5.20.19

"In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision concluded that women have a constitutionally protected right to safe and legal abortions. That landmark decision wasn't the beginning of women having abortions; it was the end of women dying from abortions."
Jan Schakowsky
(D-U.S. Representative for Illinois's 9th congressional district, serving since 1999)

 Happy Sunday, WeCANners! There's a few new items this week so grab yourself a beverage, pull up a chair, and take a look at what's going on in our community. 


Action: Long-Term Housing for All
hosted by Brattleboro Solidarity
Sunday, May 19th, 2019 at The Stone Church (210 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 1pm-4pm. 
Stand with us in solidarity with those struggling to find homes amidst the crisis of unemployment, homelessness, and poverty.


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Weekly Update 5.13.19

“No, keep your mouth shut. Nobody wants to hear it. Our culture is very different, there is a lot of taboo and a lot of things you shouldn’t talk about. I guess you’re just supposed to keep things inside.” (Survey Interview, March 2016)
     “We weren’t supposed to share our problems. There was no such thing as a psychiatric illness. It wasn’t considered ‘God’s Will’.”
(Survey Interview, March 2016)
     “I think there is a lot of anxiety because of society. We don’t fit into the American mainstream, we can’t because of our religious and cultural background and at the same time, we can’t wholly identify as Pakistani’s because we don’t hold all the same values as they do and we’ve evolved from that which puts us in a confused zone and can cause conflict and make things difficult for us in society. Especially for the children.”
(Survey Interview, March 2016)

     Quotes from participants in the research paper Perceptions of Mental Health Amongst Pakistani-Americans by Arifa K. Ashraf, 
California State University - San Bernardino, June 2016

      Welcome to Week Two in our series of Mental Health Awareness Month posts, WeCAN Friends. We’d like to spend a bit of time this week talking about finding mental health care that takes into account our own unique cultural backgrounds. 
     To do that, we first have to answer the question, “What is a cultural background?” Culture is a particular group’s beliefs, customs, values and way of thinking, behaving and communicating.
Cultural background affects how someone:

  • Views mental health conditions
  • Describes symptoms
  • Communicates with health care providers such as doctors and mental health professionals
  • Receives and responds to treatment

    What Is Cultural Competence? 
    When searching for a mental health care provider, many individuals look for someone who has Cultural Competence. 
Cultural competence is the behaviors, attitudes, and skills that allow a health care provider to work effectively with different cultural groups. Finding culturally competent providers is important because they understand the essential role that culture plays in life and health. A culturally competent provider includes cultural beliefs, values, practices and attitudes in your care to meet your unique needs.
Here are some tips to finding a Culturally Competent provider: 

Research Providers

  • Contact providers or agencies from your same cultural background or look for providers and agencies that have worked with people who have a similar cultural background.
  • Ask trusted friends and family for recommendations.
  • Look online or ask for referrals from cultural organizations in your community or trusted social media outlets.
  • If you have health insurance, ask the health plan for providers that fit your cultural background.

Ask Providers These Questions

  • Are you familiar with my community’s beliefs, values and attitudes toward mental health? If not, are you willing to learn about my cultural background and respect my perspective?
  • Do you have experience treating people from my cultural background?
  • Have you had cultural competence training?
  • Are you or members of your staff bilingual?
  • How would you include aspects of my cultural identity, such as age, faith, gender identity or sexual orientation, in my care?

Here are some other things you can do or say to help ensure that you or someone you know get the quality of care needed to find mental health:

  • Tell the provider about traditions, values and beliefs that are important to you.
  • Tell the provider what role you want your family to play in your treatment.
  • Learn about your condition, particularly how it affects people from your culture or community.
  • Look around the provider’s office for signs of inclusion. Who works there? Does the waiting room have magazines, signs, and pamphlets for you and your community?+


+ https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Finding-a-Mental-Health-Professional/Finding-Mental-Health-Care-that-Fits-Your-Cultural
* http://www.namisa.org/uploads/5/0/7/8/5078292/dmhm-infographic.pdf


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Weekly Update 5.06.19

“A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a haven from the world.”
Neil Gaiman
English author and winner of
, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals

     Happy Sunday, WeCAN friends and family, and welcome to May, otherwise known as Mental Health Awareness Month. In each Weekly Email Update this May we will explore an aspect of Mental Health; if you have a particular issue you’d like us to explore, please send us suggestions at admin@wecantogether.net. This week we’d like to pass along some key takeaway points from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Heart Association on Stress*. 
     Everyone experiences stress. Sometimes it can help you focus and get the task at hand done, but when stress is frequent and intense, it can strain your body and make it impossible to function. Finding effective ways (coping mechanisms) to deal is crucial to living well.
How Stress Affects You Stress affects your entire body, mentally as well as physically. Some common signs include:
- Frequent headaches             - Changes in appetite
- Trouble sleeping                   - Frequent mood swings
- Jaw pain                              - Difficulty concentrating                           
- Feeling overwhelmed
When experiencing long-term stress, your brain is exposed to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. This exposure weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. Stress can contribute to worsening symptoms of a mental health condition. For example, in schizophrenia, it can encourage hallucinations and delusions, while in bipolar disorder, it can trigger episodes of both mania and depression. Knowing what situations cause it is the first step in coping with this very common experience.
When You Are Most Vulnerable to Stress People are most susceptible to stress when they are:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not having a network of support
- Experiencing a major life change such as moving, the death of a loved one, starting a new job, having a child or getting married
- Experiencing poor physical health
- Not eating well
Everyone has their own threshold. Certain things that may upset you out might not even make one of your friends raise an eyebrow. Some people are affected when they experience large crowds and noisy environments, while others react to silence and free time.
Ways to Reduce Stress: Developing a personalized approach to reducing stress can help you manage your mental health and improve your quality of life. Once you've learned what your triggers are, experiment with coping strategies. Some common ones include
- Accept your needs. Recognize what your triggers are. What situations make you feel physically and mentally agitated? Once you know this, you can avoid them when it's reasonable to, and to cope when you can't.
- Manage your time. Prioritizing your activities can help you use your time well. Making a day-to-day schedule helps ensure you don't feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks and deadlines.
- Practice relaxation. Deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are good ways to calm yourself. Taking a break to refocus can have benefits beyond the immediate moment.
- Exercise daily. Schedule time to walk outside, bike or join a dance class. Whatever you do, make sure it's fun. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall physical health.
- Set aside time for yourself. Schedule something that makes you feel good. It might be reading a book, going to the movies, getting a massage or taking your dog for a walk.
- Eat well. Eating unprocessed foods, like whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit is the foundation for a healthy body and mind. Eating well can also help stabilize your mood and blood sugar. 
- Get enough sleep. Symptoms of some mental health conditions, like mania in bipolar disorder, can be triggered by getting too little sleep.
- Dedicate time for prayer and meditation. If faith is important to you, schedule time for prayer and meditation.
- Talk to someone. Whether to friends, family, a faith leader, a counselor or a support group, airing out and talking can help. Consider attending a NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group.
Getting Help
If the steps you've taken aren't working, it may be time to share with a mental health professional. He, she, or they can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to change them.

     In addition, take a look at some tips from the American Heart Association to help 'Stop Stress in Its Tracks':






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Weekly Update 4.29.19

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Aldo Leopold
an American author, philosopher, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac, which has sold more than two million copies

     May is swiftly approaching, WeCAN Brothers and Sisters, and with it comes our state's annual Green Up Day (this coming Saturday, May 4th, 2019), with events taking place throughout Vermont. Now, more than ever, it is important to set aside time in our hectic schedules and embrace our stewardship duties to our planet, Earth. Using this official Town Contact List resource you can take advantage of your local Green Up pick-up and drop-off points to make the most out of your day on Saturday. Download the official Green Up Day App available through the Apple App Store and Google Play to help coordinate your day and use your time efficiently and effectively. Many communities have BBQs or community gatherings at the end of the day, too, so consider this a fantastic opportunity to meet new friends or check in with old ones, welcome new residents to your neighborhood, or simply grab some complimentary grub as a thank you for your efforts.
     Check out other resources available on the Green Up Day website that include this handy guide to Staying Safe and Healthy on Green Up Day and ways to donate to the Green Up efforts through the Vermont Community Foundation as you make your plan to help clean up your community after a long Winter. We look forward to seeing you on the road next Saturday, May 4th!


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