April 2016
 May is  Mental Health 
Awareness Month

Health care providers have long focused on preventing illness and on early detection and treatment. We are encouraged to exercise, eat well, not smoke and have yearly cancer screenings. When diagnosed with high blood pressure or elevated blood sugar, health care providers aggressively treat these symptoms in an attempt to prevent heart disease or diabetes. Treating any illness in the earliest stages is always the goal.

     Then why are mental health related issues treated so differently?  And why, as friends and family members do we often fail to talk openly about our concerns?

     Like with a bad cough, early symptoms of a brain illness such as sleeplessness, irritability, sadness or changes in eating patterns often resolve themselves. But when they do not go away ignoring them, like with any serious illness, can have a profound impact on the course of the illness and recovery.

     For over 65 years, Mental Health America (MHA) has led the observance of May is Mental Health Month. For the last several years, they have focused their efforts on getting Americans to make the connection between the mind and body.  Through screenings, the media and local events they have reached millions of American with information and strategies to help protect their mental and ultimately their whole body health. Much of their current work is guided by the Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage) Philosophy.

     Like with most medical illnesses, there are identifiable stages of mental health conditions. The MHA divides them into four stages:

     Stage 1: Mild symptoms and warning signs. A person may begin to show symptoms but is able to function although perhaps not as easily as before. There is often a sense that something is "not right".

     A combination of two or more of these symptoms must be present to indicate a potential mental health issue.
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or ability to think clearly
  • Changes in eating such as loss of appetite or overeating
  • Not being able to complete school or work tasks
  • Feeling overly worried
  • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or worthless
  • Sensitivity to sounds, sight, smell, or touch
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Feeling your brain is playing tricks on you
  • Loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable, disconnection
  • Changes in energy level and sleep patterns. Often someone will sleep during the day and be up at night.
     Stage 2: Symptoms increase in frequency and severity. Symptoms may become stronger or new ones may appear. Performance at school or work will become more difficult and they may have trouble keeping up with personal responsibilities.

     Stage 3: Symptoms worsen with relapsing and recurring episodes. Symptoms increase in severity and often occur at the same time. A person in this stage may feel they are losing control of their life and are experiencing serious disruptions in life activities and roles.

     Stage 4: Symptoms are persistent and severe. By stage 4 the extreme, prolonged and persistent symptoms and impairment often results in the development of other health conditions and has the potential to turn into a crisis event such as unemployment, hospitalization or even incarceration. In worst cases, untreated mental illnesses can lead to loss of life an average of 25 years early.

     Many studies have shown that on average it takes ten years from the first time someone has a mental health concern until they get a correct diagnosis and treatment. Instead of hoping that someone in crisis will have the ability to help themselves, friends and family members need to recognize the signs, talk openly about what they are witnessing and intervene if necessary. According to the MHA, half of all people who develop a mental health condition will show signs by age 14. Early identification provides time for recovery and support during the years when most people still have supports that can help them to succeed.

   No matter the Stage, there are clinical services, drugs, peer supports, counseling, family supports, and other therapies available. Intervening as early as possible may reduce the impact on all aspects of recovery including education, employment, social supports, housing and overall health.

     In 2016, as part of the B4Stage4 initiative, Mental Health America is asking individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike.  They believe by posting to their hashtag it is a way to share what someone with a mental health disorder is going through and to help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness. The Life with a Mental Illness campaignis meant to help reduce the stigma of speaking out, so that more people will seeking the help they need.

     MHA believes that whether in "Stage 1" and just recognizing the symptoms, or struggling in a later stage, sharing what mental illnesses feel like will give a voice to the feelings and fears, reduce the stigma and will empower people to seek help for themselves or their loved one. 

             NAMI Walks along the Charles River
                    at DCR's Artesani Park
                   Saturday, May 14, 2016

To Join Our Team


It's fun, it's a healthy way to spend a day, and you get to show your support for NAMI Cape Cod & The Islands

 If you can't walk, support the walkers with your donation to NAMI CC&I


Long time member and NAMI supporter Nancy Bacher is chairing the 2016 WALK.


Mental Health  ADVOCACY

T he federal government's approach to mental health has been a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies. Sadly, patients end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets because services are not available.

Listen to the testimony in Congress about how the failure to treat serious mental illness has resulted in homelessness,  incarceration, substance abuse and suicide.  

The  Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) addresses the nation's broken mental health system by focusing programs and resources on psychiatric care for patients & families most in need of services. 
Campaign to Address 
Psychiatric Bed Shortages

The  Treatment Advocacy Center launched a new campaign last week calling for a moratorium on psychiatric hospital bed closures. But Massachusetts already has a  " critical bed shortage" and a moratorium is not enough. A campaign to rebuild psychiatric hospital capacity is needed, particularly in the Southeastern region of the Commonwealth. Reopening some of the 120 continuing care beds that were closed at Taunton State Hospital would be a good start.
For more information about the campaign to address the national psychiatric bed shortage, visit  #aBedInstead
Share you thoughts about a campaign to rebuild Massachusetts' psychiatric hospital capacity by sending an email to
Parenting a Teen Who Has Intense Emotions - DBT Skills to Help Your Teen Navigate Emotional & Behavioral Challenges.
By Pat Harvey and Britt H. Rathbone Published in 2015 by New Harbinger Publication, Inc.
Dealing with a teen with intense emotions? Not sure how to respond or help? This book is for you.

Written by therapists who have worked with struggling adolescents and their families for decades, this book simply and practically outlines skills and strategies for parents and caregivers of children with challenging behaviors and emotions. Using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), they help parents better understand their teen and how best to respond to problem behaviors using effective and balanced parenting strategies.
The book specifically addresses anxiety issues, eating disorders, self harm and disruptive and risky choices.

As covered in the NAMI Family to Family course and the NEA-BPD Family Connection course, this book addresses the impact of a child with challenges on the family including extended family members and siblings and how best to cope.
On the recommended list of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder for Family Connection participants, this book is written with an attitude of acceptance and is not about finding fault or blame.
DBT, developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan in 1993, was initially developed to help people with intense emotions that lead to self harm and suicidal behaviors. Now, an evidence-based therapy, it is widely used to treat many kinds of mental health issues. DBT skills and strategies are based on the concept that people need to be accepted and that they are doing the best they can in that moment. DBT skills
help people replace unhealthy behavior with more adaptive ones.
Need more info or help with a loved one who has difficulties managing their emotions?
NAMI CC&I offers Family Connections, a program developed and sponsored by NEA-BPD and based
on DBT skill training to family members through out the year. Contact the NAMI CC&I office for more info.
Legal Issues Facing Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Monday May 16, 2016
5:00 - 8:00 PM
Eastham Methodist Church
3200 State Highway Eastham, MA 02642

Registration Call WE CAN: 508-430-8111
Presented by Attorney Lynn Girton, Vice Chair
MA Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
 C o-sponsored by
Cape Cod Neighborhood Support Coalition,
the MA Commission on the Status of
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,
and Cape Cod Children's Place, Inc.

This workshop is intended to respond to the legal questions and needs of grandparents raising grandchildren.  Please come and have dinner with other attendees and visit the resource tables
of other organizations from 5:00 - 6:00.  Then attend the session while your grandchildren are cared for in a separate space. We look forward to you joining us!
From McLean Hospital 
A Harvard Medical School Affiliate

Hosted by Maureen Smith, MSW, LICSW, Director of Family Services, Adult Outpatient Services, Gunderson Outpatient Program, McLean Hospital

This webinar highlights common issues that family members have in dealing with a loved one with BPD and presents strategies for coping.

  This Webinar is Part of the BPD Patient 
and Family Initiative Webinar Series
Starting in October of 2015, Mclean Hospital has been offering free webinars to help families with a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder or difficulty managing their emotions.

Listen to webinar and the rest of the series at McLean Hospital Webinar Series
An Eight-Week Support Program for Suicide
Attempt Survivors
Wednesdays, 7-8:30pm  
May 11, 18, 25 and June 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29
Located at Hope Floats Healing & Wellness Center,
4 Elm St. Kingston, MA 02364
Registration Required: Contact Denise Brack at 781-936-8068

The time after a suicide attempt can be very confusing and filled with conflicting emotions.  Many attempt survivors feel ashamed or guilty or even angry that they are still alive.  Because of the stigma associated with suicide, attempt survivors often find it difficult to reach out.  They feel isolated and alone and don't know where to turn.

Talking with others who have similar experiences can be an important part of healing after a suicide attempt.  A Second Chance offers a safe, non-judgmental place for people to talk about the feelings that led them to attempt suicide, to talk about the impact their attempt had on their lives, and to build resilience by identifying resources and coping strategies for the future.

Our next eight-week session will begin May 11, 2016 and will be composed of four to six peers who have survived a suicide attempt.  The same people will be in the session for the entire eight weeks; it is not a "drop-in" group.  This model will allow group members to develop safe, secure bonds with each other, thereby improving their healing process.  

Sessions are free of charge.  Participants must be at least 18 years of age.  To attend the sessions, potential participants must complete a telephone intake prior to attending to allow the facilitators and participant to learn more about each other and to determine if the group may be an appropriate resource. This group is facilitated by Kathleen Shine-O'Brien, M.A., LMHC and trained volunteer, Jeff House.

Dementia is defined as a group of symptoms that impact one's intellectual and social abilities to the extent that daily functioning is impaired.  The term dementia is used when one major symptom is present in addition to memory loss. 

Symptoms include:
    -loss of language skills                                                     
    -impaired motor functions    
    -inability to learn new information                                
    -personality changes
    -inability to reason, plan, organize                                 
    -inappropriate behavior                          
    -paranoia, agitation, hallucinations

Risk factors for dementia include: age (risk factor increases with advanced age); excessive alcohol consumption;  Atherosclerosis;  Diabetes,  Down Syndrome; Genetics;  Hypertension;  Mental Illness; and smoking cigarettes.   Early diagnosis is important because some causes can be treated.  Individuals may have underlying and treatable conditions such as depression, abnormal thyroid function or a Vitamin B deficiency. 
Assessment includes patient history, physical exam, and a neurological evaluation.  Diagnostic testing may be done:  CT scans, MRI or PET imaging, neuropsychological tests, blood and urine analysis, genetic te sting and psychiatric evaluation are some diagnostic evaluation tools.
There are many causes of dementia.  The most widely known dementia is Alzheimer's Disease; a progressive disease causing changes in the brain for years, perhaps decades, prior to symptoms appearing. 

Signs of Alzheimer's Disease include:
    -poor judgement                                                              
    -inability to manage a budget
    -losing track of time                                                        
    -difficulty conversing
    -misplacing things with the inability to retrace steps to find them                       
-loss of abstract thinking
What can you do to lower your risk?  Stay healthy!
    -exercise regularly                                                           
    -eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
    -control type 2 diabetes                                                  
    -maintain a healthy weight
    -stop smoking                                                                   
    -treat depression
    -lower high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels
Dance In the Rain... 

Dance in the Rain Whole Person Approach
Peer to Peer Services
"Individuals with mental health challenges helping and supporting one another and the families that support them."
Bridging the Gap Peer/Family Program
Helping to bridge the gaps in family relationships that develop when there is a mental health challenge with in the family unit.
Come as a family or come alone.  Learn from persons' with mental illness at all stages of healing and learn from families at all levels of experience.
Begin learning how to open dialogue within the family to promote healing and understanding.
In coalition with NAMI Cape Cod & the Island Dance in the Rain is offering this program to help family and mentally challenged individuals learn to understand each other.  Ask questions, bring up concerns, thought and emotions in a completely anonymous way.  Hear both sides of the story to gain better understanding of the family dynamics ans sometimes dysfunctions family dynamics that develop.
The meeting is always the second Tuesday of the Month.
The next meeting is: Tuesday evening May 10th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Location: Dance in the rain Office - Upstairs at 145 Barnstable Road last office down the hall on the left.
Bring a dessert to share and let the healing and understanding of living as a family with a mental health challenge within the family unit.
Challenging stigma through the artists eye".
Dance in the Rain is seeking artists for our upcoming Mindset IV Art Event at the Guyer Barn.  We are looking for artist who are peers, family members, providers, basically anyone whose life has collided with this illness.  The event is Saturday May 21st.  All mediums are welcome.
Offering works from a diverse population who have been affected by mental illness allows us to present the many perspectives of the collective artists.  You can read more about it on our website under the events page (Mindset) and see videos from the past three events. 
Art sometimes speaks the words we cannot express.

Mary E. Munsell
Founder/ Executive Director/Peer
Dance in the Rain Whole Person Approach

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 2016 NAMI CC&I Annual Meeting

The 2016 Annual Meeting was held on Friday, April 15, 2016 at the Hampton Inn.  Members voted in the full slate of Board of Directors as recommended by the Nominating Committee. The reports below were distributed to members present:


 Lawyer For A Day--Free Legal Advice


Held daily at the Barnstable Probate Court.  It is advisable to arrive promptly when it opens at 9:00 am as it is first come, first served and fills up quickly.



Inclusions in the Newsletter
We have recently been asked for last minute inclusions of events in our newsletter.  We have instituted a new policy:  It is at the discretion of the Executive Director to determine whether content being submitted for distribution to the membership is aligned with our mission.  If the content is determined to be appropriate, it may be included in the monthly e-newsletter if it is submitted prior to the first of the month.