Why do you serve as a Lived Experience Leader with OCMH?
It combines all the things I am passionate about into one role: advocacy, mental health, children, influencing positive changes, and helping to support others.
Why is it important to have people with lived experience leading systems change?
Who better to tell it like it is than someone fighting on the front lines alongside their children who are affected or those that have struggled personally? I feel like mental health, especially in children, isn’t really talked about and is greatly misunderstood/stigmatized. Mental health deserves and requires an individualized approach. A textbook doesn’t tell the story of the faces behind the diagnoses. It doesn’t reflect the real struggles in your day to day life and what it’s like to care for these individuals. Providing them with environments and resources they need from a textbook approach may not fit the needs of each family. An all-inclusive textbook would be endless and ever-changing.
What is one personal goal?
To help my children lead full, productive lives and be able to live independently in the least restrictive environment possible.
What is your number one goal for systems change?
To influence positive changes that provides improved resources for families in need of support in order to provide hope and allow a better quality for those affected by mental health.
I am mom to 3, step mom to 4 more, all between the ages of 4 and 14. I have one child with diagnosed autism, ADHD, GAD, and depression, a second child being reassessed for autism, and diagnosed with ODD, GAD, and depression; both are suspected bipolar but too young to confidently diagnose. One of my stepchildren has ADHD and epilepsy and another has a learning disorder.
Passions / Hobbies / Fun Facts:
I am passionate about mental health and suicide prevention. I love doing advocacy work and helping people. I am a substance abuse counselor by trade and in school to complete my BSW, on my way to my MSW, with the goal of becoming a mental health counselor. My hobbies include going on adventures with my family, exploring new places, and trying new things (my ASD children are less enthused by this, though). When I’m not working or doing things with my family, I’m usually doing volunteer work…or online shopping.