To everyone, may you enjoy a happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Remember all, that there is much for which to be thankful. 🙂
Challenges in Mental Health Care: The Sickness v. Wellness Perspective (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
Mental health care is a challenging, but rewarding field. There are many positive sides of mental health care, and also areas that need improvement. One of the biggest rewards of mental health care is observing and experiencing progress, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients. Healing, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients in mental health settings requires patience, understanding, respect, and sensitivity. Agency and organizational stability is also needed for clients in order that they receive optimal care. While each agency and/or organization has its own culture, a culture in which workers live in fear of becoming a statistic in extremely high turnover is unhealthy in itself.
As an individual working toward licensure in the mental health profession, I am one whose perspective is from a position of wellness. First and foremost, one must view a person as a person. To perceive and treat a person with respect, kindness, nonjudgment, and impartiality are requirements in supporting and empowering the wellness, healing, and recovery of clients. In the counseling profession, one based on a view of wellness in people, there exists a positive and supportive hope for the overall optimal health of the individual.
This view is different from many other mental health professions in which the general view of the client is one of sickness. Certainly, approaching an individual with a perspective of what can be improved is helpful, and for insurance purposes involving payment for services rendered, a diagnosis of the client is required, however it is my perspective that viewing the client from a wellness standpoint is much more healthy for all involved rather than judging a person as being sick.
Those who view and describe an individual as a “sick person” have already negatively judged him or her. They have not viewed the person as a person, but as an “ill person.” Such a perspective held by such individuals causes them to treat the client differently, as one who needs more and more treatment, more and more medication, more and more confinement. In these situations, the positive view of wellness is gone, and is replaced by a judgment that the “sick person” is unable to become well.
While clients have challenges to achieving and maintaining wellness, it becomes even more of a challenge when many in the mental health field view clients as sick, and only they as the professionals who hold those views have the power and expertise to make them well – or they have already judged that they will never become well. A professional who approaches a client from a perspective of wellness (a perspective that is in the minority), therefore, faces even more challenges, not only for themselves but also for their clients when others view them as sick and unable to become well. A person is still a person, regardless of their diagnosis or disorder. A person is still a person, and has the capability of becoming well. A hopeful perspective toward client wellness must exist in the mental health profession – rather than client sickness – in order that clients are supported and empowered to experience that wellness.
A further challenge in agencies and/or organizations in which a “sickness” perspective prevails is that experienced clinicians fall into the trap of believing that their views and judgments about clients are the best – that they are the experts. Certainly, the experience of a veteran clinician is extremely valuable in treating clients, however experienced clinicians who believe that only their views, judgments, and culture of sickness are the most helpful approaches create a potentially dangerous situations for their clients. Clinicians of all levels of experience must be open-minded to considering and perceiving different views – including those from a wellness perspective – so that their clients receive optimal care and so that they profession, itself, can grow and develop in a healthy way.
Clinicians who view clients from a perspective of illness and negative judgment place their clients at risk for further illness. Clinicians who are set in their ways of expertise toward mental health treatment, and who are unable to be open-minded toward viewing different perspectives regarding it have already erected walls around themselves that are harmful for themselves, their clients, the culture of their agency/organization, and the field of mental health.
What clinicians must always place as a primary priority is that people are people. As such, people should be treated with dignity, understanding, kindness, respect, and sensitivity. If a perspective of client wellness is lacking or absent, clients will likely experience a more difficult road to recovery and may not achieve wellness. What is healthier – being an “expert” clinician whose views of client illness cause him or her to be closed to considering a client’s optimal recovery, or being a clinician who treats a person as a person, and who applies a wellness perspective that supports rather than negatively judges the client? You be the judge.
Being Most Thankful for Family (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
On Thanksgiving, what I am always most thankful for is my family. My family is always there for me in thick and thin. My family has weathered many storms and enjoyed sunny days together; I can count on my family for love, compassion, and support, and I provide the same to them. I don’t have a very large family, nor do I have much money, but I have a big heart, full of lots of love. My love is shared with and among my family, for whom I am most thankful on Thanksgiving and every day.
Other things for which I am thankful include food, faith, community, freedom, education, technology, career, and health. I am thankful for food, though it is not easy to get by from month to month with food prices continuing to rise. I appreciate my faith because, if it was not for that, I would not be where I am today, and things would likely be much worse. I am grateful for community, such as organizations that provide fellowship, to my family.
I am always thankful for freedom and I remember my grandmother’s stories about when she lived in Communist Poland, with people fearing for their lives when homes were raided in the middle of the night and people were never seen again. I am grateful for education, though the large debt required to pay for it is a hardship. I appreciate technology that makes life easier. And, I am thankful for career in many capacities, including that of being a mother, as well as for the potential of a stable gainful and enjoyable employment in a workplace with decent people, if that is ever attainable. I am thankful for my good health so I do not have to pay out-of-pocket to see the doctor as a result of being without health insurance.
So often, organizations such as colleges, churches, and charities have fundraising drives to help give to those in need. When I am asked to donate, I reply that I could benefit from some assistance, myself. As a poor single white mother, so often such places overlook people such as myself, as has occurred again this year. People in my shoes are reduced to begging for even a little bit in return. People may maintain the perspective that whites have privilege and that is definitely a stereotype that hurts poor white single mothers such as myself because the majority of any aid, as I observe, goes to people of other races.
I am also thankful for the holes in some of my shabby clothes and worn-out shoes, the place that I live even though it is not my own, the student loans that provide opportunity, my nearly decade-old vehicle that is still in great shape, and that sacrifices that I am able to make for the benefit of my family. I am thankful for the $15 haircut that I get every two months instead of going to a salon and spending loads of money, and the $3 bottle of fingernail polish that I can use for a manicure or pedicure instead of going someplace to have it done for me. I am grateful for the free lunch that I eat twice each week at my apprenticeship, and for the store closing sale at the local KMart where I can save a few dollars on Christmas gifts for my son. I am thankful for what little I have because more is always spent than saved.
These are additional reasons why I am thankful for my family, particularly at Thanksgiving. Every so often, there is that rare person who comes along who might be caring and/or supportive, but with my family, I know they will always be there, in good and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. People should be more important than money and possessions, and indeed, my family is most important to me.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I invite you to think about family, values, and people in need. Think about and be thankful for people who are close to you. Think about people whom you see at work or in church every week who have little or nothing, and who are usually overlooked in their need. Take action on what you can do rather than what you cannot. Open your heart and mind to see what you do not want to see, and take action for what you otherwise would not have done. A little bit goes a long way, especially for folks who don’t have much.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember what you are thankful for!
Camping in the Great Smokies (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
Summer is a great time of the year for camping, and this summer is no different. Last week, my son went camping with a group in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He hiked, cooked, and photographed the outdoors. There were many beautiful trees, creeks, rocks, plants, and other wildlife to photograph.
At one point during my son’s camping trip, a mother black bear and three of her cubs walked along the outskirts of the camp. It was quite an experience for the campers and the bears. One of the cubs got scared and climbed up a tree. Thankfully, the bears remained at a safe distance from everyone, and vice versa.
My son had a great opportunity for camping in the Great Smokies, and he returned home feeling even more inspired than he already was to conserve nature and protect wildlife. I’m glad that he had a good experience and was with other campers who were responsible and who looked out for each other.
Thankfully, my son was no longer in the area when lightning storms and tornadoes swept through on the next day, however most of his group remained. Luckily, everyone was okay.
Note: The photos in this post were taken by my son.
Remembering American Military Veterans on this Memorial Day (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
My son put out the American flag today, in special remembrance of America’s military veterans and in celebration of Memorial Day 2014. Putting out the flag has become somewhat of a tradition for him throughout the past few years, particularly since it was a requirement for one of his achievements as a Cub Scout. Today, he put out the flag as a new Boy Scout. Last evening, my family also watched the Memorial Day tribute celebration on television, as broadcasted by PBS. That has also been a tradition in my family for many years. This year is the 25th anniversary of the annual Memorial Day broadcast.
In remembrance of military veterans in my family, I have authored this article, having arranged photos and/or memorabilia of all of those known family members and/or ancestors who have served in the American military. I am thankful for those who have risked their lives and/or who have given their lives for the freedoms that I enjoy.
One important issue to keep in mind, however, is that our freedoms may be our right, but should also be practiced with appropriate reason and rationalization. I stated this, particularly due to interpretations of the Second Amendment of our country’s Constitution, in regard to the right to bear arms. We should all keep in mind that while we have a right to bear arms, that does not mean that we have the right to take another’s life, unless circumstances absolutely warrant it in matters of self-protection. Let us not allow the right to bear arms, as well as monetary-backed interests to that aim, to remain more important than protecting people’s lives.
May we all strive to live together in peace and harmony. Let us all remember the sacrifices of those who serve and who have served in our military forces so that not only our freedoms are maintained, but so that the spirit of democracy may infuse those in other countries, as well. May our military forces stationed in Afghanistan soon return home, and back to our wonderful democracy!
I am also aware that one of the Tomaszewski men (formerly of Gowanda, New York, and now of Chicago, Illinois), a cousin to my mom, was a pilot in the Air Force, possibly in the Vietnam War.
These photos, information, and memorabilia represent individuals within my family, and from my family ancestry, who have served in the American military. My former spouse also briefly served in the military. I salute you for your risks, sacrifices, and in the case of David Briggs, his ultimate sacrifice of his life, for the freedoms and protections of others. While I have taught history, and honor and appreciate our military veterans, I am not one who has the will to risk my life in possible sacrifice in the military. You all are a credit to our country for your service, and to the preservation of democracy.
“Happy Father’s Day!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
Wow, it’s Father’s Day already! The time goes by so fast – year after year, the time flies by. My dad will be 70 years old this year, and will celebrate his Golden Wedding Anniversary with my mom. His only grandson turned 10 years old last month; and there’s so much more to come! This is a big year for my dad.
About my dad, I can say that he has “been there” for me as much as possible and as much as he is able to and capable of. No doubt, this is much more than many fathers out there, and I am extremely thankful for it. Throughout my life, I have thought about certain qualities of my dad that I would like for him to practice or exhibit more, though I have come to learn as I have gotten older that one cannot change someone, that it is better to do my best to accept what there is and not change what I cannot.
I am thankful for my dad. I have a loving, caring, supportive, protective, and wonderful dad. While he encompasses all of those qualities and more, he is not perfect – as no one is – and I have come to be more accepting of that. I remember as a child that I would sometimes view other children’s fathers and pick out the qualities in them that I would like to add to my dad. But then, there were also qualities in the other kids’ dads that I didn’t want in my dad, too. So, while I already and always love my dad, I came to accept him as he is more as I got older. Perhaps my view as a child was immature and unrealistic, though I had my ideas of what a dad “should be.”
My dad has definitely earned an A+ in the fathership department. Every day, he proves himself as a loving, caring husband to my mom, father to me, and grandfather to my son. He is there for us and does as much as he can for us, with love and compassion in our best interests. No doubt, there are many others out there who would put up a fight to gain a dad as wonderful as mine.
There are some qualities about my dad that are fitting for him, and that have helped and supported him in his life. He is not a gossiper, and generally tries not to change others. While he can be judgmental, he is not political, nor does he have a big ego. He is not always out to prove himself to others or to the world. He is simply himself. Take it or leave it.
And, one has to take time to get to know him in order to fully understand the man whom he is. As a mother to my dad’s grandson – his only grandchild – I often see a soft spot in his heart for him. That is wonderful to see and experience, and is something I rarely saw when I was growing up. It is great to observe that my dad now has the time in his life to invest quality emotion in my son. He can do that now as a retired senior, and he deserves it after working so hard for most of his life.
My dad is the father to me that his father was not to him. My dad has been kind, caring, and supportive of me and my son 99% of the time. For that 1% that he has not been, I understand that the 99% he has given me is his 100%, and that is okay with me. My father has striven to be the opposite of his own father, in the area of care, love, and compassion toward family. My dad’s father treated him so terribly that I wonder if he even considers that he was his father. I feel sorrow and sympathy for my dad that he experienced from his father what no one should experience from anyone. May God forgive his father for not being a “father” in the true essence of the word.
So, on this Father’s Day, it is time to show our thankfulness, respect, and appreciation to our fathers, particularly those who are loving, caring, compassionate, and supportive. Perhaps the dads who do not embody those qualities will have good role models in those who do. We must remember, and be blessed and thankful for our loving and good fathers. Thank you, Dad; and Happy Father’s Day!