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Message from the President
May is National Mental Health Month, and we at Phoenix House are continuing to prioritize mental well-being with our promise to treat the whole client—not just his or her addiction.
In this issue, you’ll gain mental health insights from Deni Carise, our Chief Clinical Officer, and learn more about the Phoenix House programs that provide men, women, and teens the tools they need to strengthen their minds and sustain recovery - from counseling to yoga and meditation classes. We’re also happy to honor the month’s holidays with a Memorial Day segment on veterans and a Mother’s Day spotlight on Phoenix House client Christina, a proud new mom receiving treatment at one of our Mother and Child Programs.
We hope these snapshots of life at Phoenix House provide you with a window into our vibrant and ever-changing community—our growth is due in no small part to your continued support!
Howard P. Meitiner
PH: One in four Americans have a diagnosable, treatable mental health disorder, but only half of them seek treatment. Why is that?
DC: One possible reason is that they may not identify their depression, anxiety, or other symptoms as a disorder, or they may be unaware that there is affordable, accessible, and effective treatment that can help them. There’s also the widespread stigma, which can make people ashamed to get the help they need. That’s something we are hopefully changing through education and advocacy.
PH: Which comes first, addiction or mental health issues?
DC: It’s tough to say. On one hand, mental health disorders may lead to self-medication; those suffering from depression, for example, may use amphetamines or cocaine to perk up. On the other hand, a user may exhibit symptoms of a mental health disorder because of their drug use. It’s always difficult to tell which came first—that’s why it’s important to treat both problems.
PH: How can we support a loved one struggling with a mental health disorder?
DC: It varies depending on the individual. While one depression sufferer may need reassurance that it’s OK to rest and relax, another may need someone to get them out of bed and into a daily routine. The important thing is to find out what works best for your loved one. Treatment, eating well, healthy sleep habits, and exercise are always good ideas.
Helping Our Vets
This Memorial Day, as we remember the soldiers who so bravely served our country, our thoughts turn to the veterans and military personnel who are struggling with mental health problems. A recent study showed that veterans with mental health disorders have high rates of substance abuse—a finding that does not surprise Lauren Ellis, Ph.D., Clinical Director of our Military Services Program.
Mental Health Services at Phoenix House
Roughly 37 percent of men and women who abuse alcohol and 53 percent of those who abuse other substances also suffer from a mental illness. “Considering this close connection, it has always been important that Phoenix House provide treatment for co-occurring disorders” says Julia Floyd-Ventura, Director of Mental Health Services.
Program Spotlight: Yoga for Recovery
At Phoenix House yoga programs across the country, clients learn skills that help them prioritize their mental health and well-being every day of their lives. “We are always looking for alternative ways to help our clients find recovery,” explains Nora Bordeau, a Mental Health Counselor and Art Therapist at Phoenix House Long Island City Center.
As Nora and many devotees can attest, yoga and meditation are extremely beneficial tools for recovery from addiction. When struggling with substance abuse, the sympathetic nervous system is often overwhelmed with stress. “Yoga and meditation bring clients to a level where cravings are workable and don’t lead to relapse,” Nora explains. “They can acknowledge the craving, let it wash over them, and then breathe it away.”
Click here to read more about Phoenix House’s yoga programs.
Mother's Day Spotlight: Christina
I grew up in a nice neighborhood, I went to private school, I graduated from college…but guess what? Addiction doesn’t discriminate. I discovered heroin about five years ago and became addicted very quickly. When I came to Phoenix House, I was six months pregnant and still using. I was so ashamed.
Join Us in the Hamptons!
Join us in the Hamptons on June 25th for our annual Phoenix House Summer Party, honoring Elie Tahari and Julie and Bruce Menin. Hosted at the beautiful oceanfront home of Margie and Micheal Loeb, the event will benefit our Phoenix House Academy of East Hampton.