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The Gift collaboration

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When a company turns 50 there are moments when you look back and remember the many milestones and accomplishments throughout the years. Crestwood has had many of these milestones and the one common thread throughout our 50 years of memories is our ability to join forces through collaboration and create a synergy to support those who are in need the most. This ability is based on Crestwood’s belief that the best things happen when we engage with and support each other to meet the ever-increasing mental health needs of the people of California. By sharing our resources, we believe we are stronger as a community to serve people with mental health issues. For Crestwood, we recently added a new significant milestone to our history with the opening of our newest Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC), the San Francisco Healing Center, which was made possible through an amazing collaboration effort.

Collaboration has been defined at Crestwood as the beauty of giving and receiving. It is a partnership, an alliance and a relationship. It is the space where we connect in a common purpose. The San Francisco Healing Center (SFHC) came together through a true collaboration between Crestwood and remarkable people and organizations including the late Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee; the current Mayor of San Francisco, Mark Farrell; Aneeka Chaudhry, the Mayor’s Office Senior Advisor/Health Policy; Barbara Garcia, San Francisco’s Director of Public Health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health; Kelly Hiramoto, Director of Transitions for the San Francis- co Department of Public Health; Maga Jackson-Triche, UCSF Health’s Vice President of Adult Behavioral Health Services; Rita Ogden, UCSF Health’s Direc- tor-Project Manager; John Allen, President of St. Mary’s Medical Center; Lloyd Dean, President & CEO of Dignity Health; and Mark Laret, President & CEO of UCSF Health.

 

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at SFHC’s Open House (L to R) Barbara Garcia, Mayor Farrell, Lloyd Dean, London Breen, Maga Jackson-Triche and Sister Mary Kieffer

 

At Crestwood we believe collaboration is a value of the heart. It recognizes the ability to create synergy and requires more than a plan or an intention it requires humility. Humility allows us to recognize and identify when we make mistakes or that others may have better solutions. Humility demonstrates a strength that many organizations shy away from – the strength to learn from mistakes, allow others to take the credit and share the spotlight on support for the people we serve.

Collaboration also requires committed, intentional and active communication. At Crest- wood this communication focuses on transparency, with the intention to enable all parties to have a voice, for messages to be heard, and for respect to be present even during painful confrontations. Communication is built on a foundation of boundaries and ethics. There must be mutuality and respect for communication to be effective.

Listening is another key ingredient in collaboration. Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and teacher of meditation and emotional healing, states that listening is more than a communications skill; it is a capacity that arises from a receptive presence and awakens our awareness. As we learn to listen inwardly, we begin to understand and care more for others.

Collaboration at Crestwood has also grown through gratitude. The opportunity to sense supreme gratefulness is a key ingredient of collaboration. An example of this type of gratitude was demonstrated by St. Mary’s Medical Center offering to lease the 5th floor in their building to our SFHC, so that more mental health services will be available in the community to help this most disenfranchised population.

Our S.F. Healing Center exemplifies another characteristic of collaboration with creativity. This program grew from the belief Kelly Hiramoto had that one day we would find the right location for a recovery-oriented MHRC, rich in evidence-based and promising practices. Kelly then worked with Barbara Garcia to bring together the partnership of San Francisco, Dignity Health, St. Mary’s Medical Center, UCSF and Crestwood to grow the program.

Lastly, collaboration requires patience. Patience is defined as the ability to wait, to continue doing something despite difficulties. Collaboration takes time and there are many bumps in the road, delays and difficulties. Patience allows us to “Keep our eyes on the prize,” which is the ultimate goal. It enables us to weather the difficulties, knowing the outcome, such as the San Francisco Healing Center, will be well worth the struggle and wait.

During the past 50 years at Crestwood, we have had numerous examples of collaboration, resulting from our patience, creativity, gratitude, listening, communication and humility. Crest- wood collaborates every day, at every program and campus, to bring the highest-level of service to our clients. Today, at our San Francisco Healing Center, collaboration has made it possible to have more mental health recovery services be provided to the people in greatest need, which is a victory for all who came together to make it a reality.

Contributed by:
Patricia Blum, PhD
Crestwood Executive Vice President


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Coming Together in Tragedy

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The evening of Sunday, October 8th in Napa County started out for many of us as a calm night, watch- ing football, enjoying the return of loved ones from trips away and a night to prepare for the next work day. Later that night, with very little warning, the weather took a horrific turn, with winds that tore through the area at 70 miles per hour. And with the winds, came deadly fast-moving fires that became infernos almost instantly.

Shortly after 1:00 am on that Monday morning, many of us were awoken to the notification sound on our cell phones, alerting us that a Nixle alert had been received. Then our phones became this continuous beeping of alerts notifying us of the fires and evacuations. The notifications were so widespread, it was hard to comprehend what was occurring. Multiple fires were being reported in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties. The winds were so strong that it fueled the fires faster than anyone had anticipated. People were forced to flee from their homes with very little warning and had to leave everything they had behind. Sadly, not everyone was able to evacuate in time and some people perished in the fires.

Our Crestwood Leadership Team moved into a heightened state, first assuring those we know, love and are responsible for, that they are safe. Then as leaders, we moved into a place of support and compassion for our staff and clients, to ensure that they and our campuses were safe, and that we were addressing the needs of everyone that needed help.

For many of our Angwin staff these fires triggered prior trauma, as they had already been through the Rocky, Jerusalem, Valley and Clayton fires that had caused significant destruction in 2016 and 2017. Those staff now became the fire veterans to support the staff that were now experiencing firsthand the fear and the power of destruction that fires can do. Many of them were evacuated or had family and friends that were evacuated. Their concern then turned to the possibility of evacuating our Napa Valley 52-bed campus, which thankfully did not happen.

In the days that followed it was amazing to see the outpouring of support from staff from other campuses who offered assistance in the form of vans, evacuation sites, masks, emergency phone supports, donuts, hugs, prayers, and just a “How are you and how can I help.” To those of you who were visibly present and those sending silent prayers and good wishes, we all thank you!

As the fires were contained and people were let back into their homes or learned that their homes had been destroyed, our Crestwood staff rallied around everyone with love and support. We have learned so much from this experience and we will take those lessons forward to help us in our development of our next emergency preparedness plans. One thing that I know is we will never be the same. When you experience the fear, the lack of any control and the absolute love and compassion of people, you are changed. It is an appropriate time to again reflect on our mission and values as an organization. They were created to help guide our organization. They are the foundation of who we are, not only as a business, but at the core of who we are as people. I am so proud to work for an organization where I was blessed to experience those values from people when we needed it the most!

To all who have suffered loss or pain in the Northern and Southern California fires, our prayers of support are with you and your families.

 

Contributed by:
Pam Norris, Director of Operations


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Waging War on the Stigma and Fear That Still Surrounds Mental Health

blog-fall-stigmaFor decades we have been studying stigma in mental health from the research of Irving Goffman in Asylums in the early 1950’s, to the more recent work of Patrick Corrigan’s Don’t Call me Nuts and Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America. Today we continue to study stigma as evidenced in the recent 2015 research by Patricia A. Carlisle’s, Mental Health Stigma: How to overcome mental health stigma in America.

So we have to ask where we are as a society in terms of stigma, fear and mental health. What have we accomplished? Have we made any progress or changed attitudes? Have we created inclusion for our friends and family with mental health issues? Have we shifted beliefs? Are we any closer to creating an environment where teenagers can tell their parents or friends about their voices? Can a 20-year old let a college know they are taking a semester off to go into a behavioral health program? Can a 32-year old nurse ask for accommodation because they are experiencing severe symptoms of bipolar type 2 and still be eligible for a promotion? Can we bring a behavioral health program to a vacant community hospital, bringing 50 to 200 jobs to that small town and be welcomed, rather than attacked? Sadly, in 2017, the answer to these questions is still no.

So the mandate today, more than ever, is to wage war on mental health discrimination, stereotypes, stigmatizing images and inflammatory media coverage, national leaders who ridicule and mock, shaming language, intolerance and hatred.

It is fear that stops people from telling someone they are experiencing a mental health crisis. It is fear that prevents people from getting help. It is fear that stops parents from getting treatment for their children. It is fear that creates the environment where a community feels vindicated in fighting mental health services coming to their community.

This fear and hatred is the stigma that people who have mental health issues live with every day. Stigma is more debilitating than the diagnosis or symptoms. It is a dark shadow hanging over you. It is the barrier to accessibility. It is the barrier to friendships and relationships. It is the barrier to finishing a degree, pursuing a career or even working at all. It is the barrier to recovery. It keeps you sick and disabled if you let it and if our society accepts it. Today we must speak up, make political choices, and fight legal battles to impact this fear and hate of mental health issues. During a recent California land use legal battle, an 85-year old mother, who is a leader in NAMI, closed the public comment section in the meeting with the following statement, “There are two four-letter words – FEAR and HOPE. You choose.”

Fighting stigma, fighting fear, fighting hate and discrimination is a battle to be fought by everyone. We must make it our battle and we must win. We must join with the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS) and other national movements such as Stamp Out Stigma, NAMI, and Each Mind Matters to fight and eliminate stigma in our services, families, communities and our world. Until the stigma and fear that surrounds mental health has been eliminated, the world will be a darker place, making it more difficult for people to get the help they need and deserve. As former President Bill Clinton said, “Mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”

Contributed by:
Patricia Blum, PhD
Executive Vice President


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The Art of Bringing Up Leaders

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“Clarity of purpose at both a corporate and personal level is an essential ingredient in the successful leader model.”

-Karen de Tyson
A New Generation of Business Leaders 

Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc. is an organization that is built by and for people desiring to make a change in the world by creating a continuum of services that empower our clients to live and succeed in their communities. As an organization, we lead the mental health community by example. As individuals, we lead our community of staff, clients, peers, families, business partners, county stakeholders, faith communities, schools and neighbors by example.

Our greatest resource at Crestwood is our human resource. The humanity in human resources is the gift Crestwood brings to this field. The humanity in Crestwood leadership is the cornerstone in the framework of service to others. We exemplify the eight dimensions of servant leadership-listening, empathy, healing, mindfulness, stewardship, growth, and community building, all of which are clearly aligned with our Crestwood values of family, character, flexibility, commitment, enthusiasm compassion, and collaboration. Our values are also linked with our recovery pillars of hope, empowerment, meaningful roles and spirituality. These values, pillars, and dimensions become the lens from which we lead, drive the work we do every day and what we use to develop new leaders from within our Crestwood family. Our staff members embody these values and they serve as the foundation for the programs and services we provide. It is the responsibility of each of our campus Administrators and leadership teams to uphold these values on a daily basis, in all aspects of their positions and roles.

Our Administrators are expected to lead, manage, supervise and demonstrate a wide- array of skills and abilities on a day-to-day basis. Crestwood is a learning community. It is expected that a person in leadership will be trained, oriented, coached, developed and recognized in all areas of their roles. In order to support and grow servant leaders in our organization, we have created a leadership training curriculum and a full mentorship program.

Crestwood’s mentorship program process starts with a robust orientation and onboarding that welcomes our new Crestwood family members. The orientation is designed to create an inviting and compassionate community of employees who care for themselves, each other, and the clients and stakeholders we serve. Orientation is infused with tools for engagement and culturally relevant adult learning methods. After orientation, mentorship continues for our employees with our Crestwood Academy.

Through our Crestwood Academy we engage employees through coaching on the fly, in-services, trainings, workshops, conferences, webinars, environmental practices, demonstrations, mastery of skills and competency building opportunities. Throughout this process, our employees are encouraged to look for ways to achieve their goals, to reach their aspirations, as well as to advance their careers at Crestwood in their field of choice. Our employees are given the opportunity to achieve advanced degrees, licenses and certifications through our Crestwood Scholarship Program. Advancing leaders may also engage in our succession planning process, where management and leadership team members, including Administrators, identify possible new candidates for leadership positions.

Our succession planning at Crestwood involves developing our servant leaders, in all departments, through our comprehensive values-driven mentorship program. Although the mentorship has training, homework, and benchmarks for success, the cornerstone of this program is the relationship built among leaders – a relationship built on honesty, collaboration, compassion, transparency, integrity and love. Crestwood proudly achieved the rare CARF Exemplary Conformance to the Standards for our leadership succession planning process and mentoring to identify future potential leaders in our organization and then providing them with training, education and support to prepare them for these roles.

At Crestwood we are determined and motivated to continue to lead, inspire and keep the humanity in everything we do as we develop our next group of leaders that will take us well into the future and will continue to make a difference in the world we live in.

Contributed by:
Patricia Blum, PhD
Executive Vice President


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Health Crisis

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How many times do we have to see our clients, friends and coworkers receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or coronary disease at an early age? How many times do we see these same people pass away from “natural causes” in their 30s, 40s and 50s, while we see the average life span of people grow from 51 years in 1910 to 78 years in 2010?

The sad fact is that for those among us living with a mental health diagnosis, the average life expectancy is conservatively 10 years less than those who don’t have that challenge and it also accounts for 8 million deaths worldwide annually.  NAMI and other research suggest that the life expectancy gap is actually 14 to 31 years shorter for those with a mental health issue.  The mortality rate for people with schizophrenia is four times higher than those without this diagnosis and those with a bipolar disorder have a 13 year decreased life expectancy. This is a reflection of our broken system and communities in need of healing and compassion.

Much of this early mortality is attributed to “natural causes” such as heart disease, pulmonary diseases, cancer, cerebrovascular, respiratory, and lung diseases. Elizabeth Walker, a researcher at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, writes, “People with mental health disorders have a high prevalence of chronic medical conditions, with fewer resources to manage these conditions. People with mental health challenges are dying prematurely and at a rate far exceeding their peers without this diagnosis.”

How many people that we love and care for have to die before their time and how many times do we have to plan services and mourn their passing? This disturbing health crisis is often overlooked. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), life expectancy has increased dramatically, unfortunately, “reductions in mortality are not shared equally in this country across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups or health-related conditions.”

So what can be done to start to change this shocking reality?

The first change that is needed is how we deliver services as a society. We need to be honest about the disparities in our culture. Services may be accessible with wheelchair ramps and Braille signage, however, there is no tolerance for people who are disheveled, responding to voices, have ticks, look different or have unpredictable behavior.  This intolerance creates barriers so preventive healthcare, such as routine checkups, mammograms, and teeth cleaning, is out of reach.  These disparities have led to women with mental health issues dying from cancer at twice the rate as the general population, and these women are also three times more likely to die from breast cancer.   Researchers, Colton and Manderscheid, found that the secondary consequences of mental illness are poverty, unemployment, poor housing, stigma, and low self-esteem leading to challenges accessing healthcare, including health professionals’ misdiagnosis, less focus on physical health, low compliance with health screening and treatment, and poor communication.  This has to stop! We have to create pathways to accessibility, prevention and care.  We need to train more primary healthcare providers to work with people with mental health challenges, which is something Crestwood Behavioral Health has been providing to our county stakeholders.  We need to design clinics, waiting rooms and services that are more accepting and inclusive of all marginalized populations. We need to develop more welcoming and validating preventive health screenings and utilization of services.

The second thing we need to do in our communities is the creation of Federally Qualified Health Clinic Clubhouses that welcome those with mental health challenges, the homeless, the disenfranchised and their families.  A Clubhouse is first and foremost a local community center that offers people who have mental health challenges the hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential.  During the course of their participation in a Clubhouse, members gain access to opportunities to rejoin the world of friendships, family, employment and education, and to the services and support they may individually need to continue their recovery. A Clubhouse also provides important routine health screenings that are completed in a client-friendly space, rather than in a hospital or sterile clinic setting. Crestwood is currently looking to explore creating a Clubhouse program in San Diego.  Also, a mobile whole health services unit, a companion to the Clubhouse, is needed to bring health screenings and health services to the homeless where they are, whether it is under a bridge, in a shelter or at a wellness center.

The next action that needs to be taken is to launch a statewide Wellness and Resiliency Initiative similar to the one Crestwood has adopted in all of our programs that includes serving heart-healthy diets and creating client-oriented cookbooks with heart-heathy recipes and shopping guides. It includes planting organic gardens and using the farm to table approach in our meals. It is bringing Zumba and Yoga to every campus and community.  It is having exercise tracks in yards that used to be used for smoke breaks. At Crestwood we support smoking cessation, sobriety and meaningful roles to help replace addiction and isolation. Crestwood also teaches meditation and mindfulness to our clients which lowers heart rate, reduces risk of heart disease and increases pulmonary capacity.

Another action we can take is to live healthier lives as healthcare providers. At Crestwood we use Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) to support our workforce, with staff being paid for time off the floor to attend WRAP groups. We provide mental health days, as well as sick days and expect our staff to do routine health screenings – modeling wellness. We employ meditation and mindfulness practices at all staff meetings and events to encourage our staff to practice mindfulness as a health and wellness practice.

At Crestwood we will continue to do our part by looking for and incorporating innovative health and wellness measures into our programs.  We can truly practice self-care each day, creating a compassionate community of people caring for themselves and others. This may not move the needle on the mortality rate very quickly; however, it is a promising start that we hope will begin to create healthier, longer lives for our clients, friends and coworkers.

Contributed by:
Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President


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Transformation – One person, one program, one community at a time.

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The day Crestwood Behavioral Health opened the Kingsburg Healing Center was one of those beautiful moments of transformation. We spend much of our lives working with people and ourselves on transformation, it could be changing a small behavior or a big one, and it may mean adding an exercise routine, revising a Recovery Service Plan, or helping a person find a job.  Transformation may also be seen in the developing of a new program, which was the central theme in the opening our Kingsburg Healing Center.

Transformation for Kingsburg Healing Center began with rehabilitating an old building that had been vacant and lifeless for decades, into a beautiful, warm, welcoming facility. It involved designing a new program that incorporates all of our recovery services such as Homelike Environments, Mind, Body, and Spirit Wellness, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Trauma-Informed Approaches.  The development of the Kingsburg Healing Center also gave us a chance to get to know the neighbors and community leaders and to start becoming part of such a wonderful community.

Opening week for our Kingsburg Healing Center was very exciting and included an Open House on January 27, where community leaders and neighbors were welcomed in to tour the newly transformed facility and meet the staff. The event began by a warm blessing from Father Gregory, from the Holy Family Parish.  Kingsburg Mayor, Bruce Blayney, then provided opening words and other local community leaders such as Kingsburg District Hospital Board Members Glenn Snyder, Robert Johnson and Arlie Rogers, as well as Kingsburg City Manager, Alex Henderson also added their own words of welcome. Dawan Utecht, Director of Fresno County Behavioral Health, shared her kind words with the group.  Many other community leaders were also in attendance such as City Council Members Staci Smith and Michelle Roman; Chief of Police Neil Dadian; and Steve Safarjian, local broker/owner of RPS Real Estate.

The Open House was a great success with more than 200 community members attending.  One Kingsburg citizen, Mrs. Johnson, commented, “Thank you so much for letting us tour the facility.  Crestwood has done an amazing job transforming the old Hospital.  My husband and I are excited to leave here and tell all our friends what the facility looks like and what we learned from the tour.”  And another Kingsburg citizen, Mr. Lopez, said, “Your staff was so nice and gave us a lot of great information about the facility during our tour.   Thank you for giving the community a chance to see for ourselves all the hard work that has gone into the building and understanding what your company stands for.”

So one week later on February 1st, after two years of planning, challenges, hearings and a lot of hard work, the Kingsburg Healing Center was ready to open for clients!  On that opening day it was a gift to have five clients who were warmly received in our welcome room; who sat watching our fish tank; who walked in our yard; who found a space for a quiet time in our serenity room; who shared in delicious homemade lasagna; and who  slept on new beautiful, comfortable beds. These five people were now on a journey to start their own recovery transformation.

Kingsburg Healing Center is not only a transformation of an old building into a beautiful new program; it also is the beginning transformation in the lives of our clients and their families.  “I want you to know that I think the Kingsburg Healing Center is such a loving and warm place.  It is a wonderful place for my daughter.  She is doing so much better now that she is here,” said one client’s mother. No longer will clients in Fresno County have to travel hundreds of miles for mental health services and no longer will their families have to make long trips to visit them. “I wish this place had been here sooner, it would have been nice to have our son here sooner.  Now that he is back in Fresno County we can see him anytime we want and we know it will help him get better,” said one client’s parents.  The transformations at Kingsburg Healing Center are just beginning.

Contributed by:
Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President

 


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Our Spiritual Path

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When a person has no hope, no sense of self, no meaning in life, and when they feel that their purpose on this earth feels nonexistent, their dreams have evaporated and thoughts of tomorrow are too heavy a burden to carry – that person can start to drown in emptiness.  It is at this time when they need that path to be opened – the path of connection, the path of light and a path that is uniquely theirs. It becomes the one place or thought that they can hold on to; this is their personal spiritual path. Spirituality is the connection to a greater power, others and self.  It is the way to find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in life.  Many people find spirituality through religion, music, art or a connection with nature, while others find it in their values and principles. At Crestwood Behavioral Health we hold spirituality as one of our core values for recovery.

The path can be dark at times. It can be difficult to find without a companion, a guide or simply someone who believes in you, who sees you and who can by a look, a touch or a word begin to open the door to your spiritual path.  The door may be a prayer, a moment of tears, or even a moment of silence. It is a connection with a higher power, with nature, with something or someone greater than ourselves.

The door to your spiritual path may be opened in the simplest and most humble of settings or it may be in a mosque, temple or church. It may be sitting near water or may be by spending time in the outdoors. At times it’s in silence or it can be brought on by a beautiful song.

Each person’s spiritual path can be healing, centering, a moment of peace that is filled with acceptance and love. It is often what brings back hope, a sense of self, purpose and a meaning to life. It is and shall always be a core value to what we offer in our services for our clients at Crestwood.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President