Part2 Consumer Drop Ins…History and Funding (with Links by State)

rebels (2)This is me at my drop In working on my WRAP Plan at Rebel’s in Hollywood Florida….(one of my WRAP Goals was to make more friends, virtual and real)…


Drop-In Peer Centers Part Two: History and Funding

Allison Strong

Last month, I wrote about my drop in center, Rebel’s Drop In, which offers peer mentoring, art classes, outings, and other activities.  What would it take to start one?

What is peer mentoring?

A peer is someone who has personal experience living with mental illness.  Seventy eight comparative research studies that I read prove that peer mentoring is astoundingly effective in a number of ways.  I got this information from two articles. The first is an April 2014 article from the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. It’s titled, “Peer Support: Why It Works.” The second group of studies cited come from Mark S. Salzer’s 2010 paper: “Certified Peer Specialists in the United States Behavioral Health System: An Emerging Workforce.” I’m sure there are even more.  One of studies in particular is about the cost effectiveness of this approach, reducing the amount of crises requiring inpatient confinement. So if you were going to approach a local public hospital that treats the uninsured and the indigent, this study would be of interest to them.  Bluntly put, this and other evidence-based comparative studies proves that by supporting a center, maybe by providing space or funds, that over time, they will save lots of money and be able to count it.  Drop-ins have been proven to improve quality of life and even save lives, something of interest to a possible private donor.

How is it funded?

Here’s how the movement legitimized itself, opening the door for funding.  In 2001, Georgia became the first state to specifically identify peer mentoring and support as a Medicaid reimbursable service. Other states, but not all, have followed suit.

In 2007,  Dennis B Smith, the director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid explained it as an “evidence-based” mental health model of care that consists of a qualified peer support provider who assists individuals with their recovery from mental illness and substance abuse disorders. In my opinion, it’s a win-win endeavor.

Federal funds are available through Samsa. If you Google Samsa, the prompt for ‘grants and funding’ is on the first page. When you click that, the easy instructions on ‘how to’ fill out an application for grants displays with the bright, easy-to-understand application itself. There is grant-based funding at the city, county, or state level depending on where you live.

How did my center get started?

I sat down with Kay, my center’s project director. She is a peer mentor and manages the other peer mentors. She oversees the volunteer program and other curriculum. A little known but important fact about Kay: She started and nurtured the area’s only Schizophrenics Anonymous self-help group. This has taken conviction and time. Kay’s very interesting, and was kind enough to sit down with me and give me background on our center. She has a stout skill set and many personal achievements. For her, it’s been a journey.

“I was on disability for six years, but always wanted to go back to work.” She worked part-time in the kitchen at the Buddhist Conference center, finding the beliefs enriching and helpful.

“The Buddhist practice definitely had a transformational effect on my life,” she said. “It was very positive.” The next stop was two years of part-time work at MHA, while volunteering at another local drop in center. In 2003, she was hired full-time to work at Rebel’s Drop-In, in Hollywood, Florida. While working full-time at Rebel’s she went back to school, earning a Master’s degree in counseling and is now a licensed LMHC. She mentioned that the hospital helped her to do that.

“The beauty of a hospital affiliation is that we can offer a continuum of care to someone who might need a higher level of care,” she said. “Our psychiatrists and therapists are here on site to evaluate and facilitate that.” The volunteer program offers many opportunities for consumers to do something positive with their lives, in addition to socialization. Isolation, which can be a symptom of some mental health problems, can perpetuate the problem itself.

Rebel’s opened in 2001 with the help of a consumer advocate and a contribution from a private donor. The space was provided by a local hospital. Grants helped provide the additional funding needed to operate the center in its early years.

“Our Grants have only gone up over time. I’ve hired more mentors and offer more programs,” Kay said. “Doesn’t this seem unique in these eras of budget cuts?”

“It’s exceptional, in any political environment.  Part of it is that I am a meticulous record keeper. That’s the key in any grant-funded environment.”  At that moment the doorbell rang. She relaxed and leaned back, shooting a glance all the way through the door to the group room, around the reception desk to the front door. Her smile reached up to her eyes.

“This is the best chair in the room to sit. At any time I can always see who is trying to get in and go open the door for them.” She got up from her seat and did just that.

Below Are the State-By-State Directories…they may be slightly out of date but try them to see if there is a drop in offering free WRAP services near or in your town.



Trying to Advocate in the face of Discrimination

I just tried to sign up for the Mood Network and apparently I already have! Memory loss from all the mood stabilizers (3) antidepressants (2) and Tardive Meds. Recently I became aware that because I have Tardive Dyskinesia, I am discriminated against as a prospective volunteer. These are places where I volunteered for years with a high hospital security clearance and facilitated/started/nurtured support groups for people like us. I am the face of something that makes drug company sponsored foundations uncomfortable. I’m ‘trouble.’ I find this troubling. Because I have decent verbal skills and am a writer and activist, this situation is even worse. I’m trying to soften a few areas of my message, like my blog, “Rebel With A Cause” to reflect something more positive. But America Loves a Rebel. It’s good to question the status quo and research what you put in your body before you do it, I think.

I mean how many things have they been wrong on? Vioxx, Saccarine, Thalidomide, Tardive, ADHD, I could go on and on.

To quote the ‘Arnold,’ I’ll be back. Allison Strong

Stigma where it shouldn’t be: My local Nami.

This is a letter to another person who has tardive dyskinesia and is quiet about it. She’s smarter than me. She realizes it scares people. I’m writing her about being stigmatized and discriminated against by my local drop in center and local Nami. This is not the first time I’ve looked at this issue. For all of you people who are trying to advocate, help others, sometimes they don’t want our particular voice to be heard. I took her name out of the letter and am reprinting it and asking you…should I let NAMI national know about this situation or let it lie? I’ve already cried ‘foul’ locally in a very measured, calm manner. The problem is trouble begets trouble. What would it help? Would it result in more doors being shut in my face? My local Nami is Broward County Florida, by the way. This is my way of asking you: What should I do about this?


Dear M,


Buzzfeed published a list of thirty books on mental illness. My book is beginning to just come pouring out of me. I added bipolar hope blog and a one-off on Mindful Management of Mood Disorders-DBT to my list of publishers. When I saw this list, because I had gotten my first list of books from you, naturally I thought of you.


I have a thorny situation I thought I would ask your advice. I want to volunteer in mental health in more than just writing. I am doing a type of telephone outreach developing a database for IBPF and since I’m decent on the phone from years of being a disc jockey and know how to talk naturally, (you just talk and mumble and they get it..they don’t feel ‘slicked’ know?) I am enjoying that.



Here is the situation. I wanted to write a second article about a drop in center that I’d written a first article about. In past, I volunteered for three years with high hospital clearance. I lead a good peer support meeting. I developed an eating disorder meeting, got us in newspaper, showed up until others began short the meeting is still running today. I fell off their volunteer rolls. When I asked to be put back on and take the class, I was told I was too unstable. While it’s true I’m verbal, impulsive and sometimes dominant, especialy with people who have thought disorders and are going at a slower speed, I’ve worked on it and have gotten better.


AT that drop in center, there are peer volunteers who have offered me drugs in the parking lot. Others make professional appointments to fix the computer for example and don’t show or call to cancel. I even get calls from paranoid volunteers who think the CIA is after them. I don’t do things like this and I don’t report either. But I’ve run into the same problem with NAMI. I attended a few of their ‘connections’ meetings and was scolded for nodding my head and saying ‘uh huh,’ when someone was talking. They solicited volunteers to lead more support groups. I am really good at this. My calls go unanswered. I tried a third time and filled out a telephone application with the head office volunteer and told him about the problem at “Rebel’s Drop In.” He reassured me I’d done the right thing by confiding in him, as the information would have been relayed to him anyway. They vet us thoroughly. I have been told twice they have no one to do the newsletter. This would be so easy for me and I volunteered. My application has been ignored for two weeks. I followed up with a phone call a week ago and left a message about ‘starting slow and small to work towards a common goal.” it was also ignored.  I got an email from them yesterday and cooly responded that I’m aware I’m being discriminated against because “she’s got that.” she’s ‘trouble,’ ‘she’s angry.’


So my email just said, “I’m not angry, this happens to me a lot since I got Tardive and that I understand I’m the face of a fearsome statistic even though I’m asymptomatic. I think it’s the tardive. If I had never mentioned it in a “Connections” meeting I would have been warmly welcomed. I have a strong skill set.


Sometimes doctors won’t take me as a patient, and the ones willing to explain said it was because they viewed me as ‘trouble,’ ‘a walking lawsuit’ a ‘basketcase on too many drugs.’ My own psychiatrist of  17 years says I’m an ‘exotic’ and that people just don’t understand.


I feel good. I had bipolar depression last year from April to Mid july and it was tough. My new antidepressant is hard to keep down, side effect of nausea. But I’m a trouper.  I realize certain things aren’t meant to be. I was hoping to volunteer for the drop in center or Nami by facilitating ‘connections’ or a ‘mat pilates’ class. The nearest DBT class is held there. I don’t feel comfortable or supported there.


I wanted involvement with Nami to learn more about things like mental health parity, ballot initiatives, etc. I had wanted to do a series of articles called “Activism Made Easy” giving examples of petitions signable by the click of a mouse. I was hoping to soak up their expertise. I’d be a great grant writer. Maybe I’m meant to write my book and isolate. I crave human interaction, especially with my peers.


I’m at a fork in the road. I’m considering contacting Nami’s national branch and explaining the situation. I am continuing to work on my character defects and off putting personality traits. But I hurt deep inside at an organization dedicated to eliminating inequality and stigma stigmatizing me. It really hurts, M.


Allison Biszantz

So be clear: I’m being discriminated against and not allowed to contribute there in any way even though I could help fundraise, do the newsletter, start and nurture new “Connections” meetings and more. I’m also considered ‘not stable enough’ to volunteer again at the local drop in center. That is also a deteriorating situation. Question is…how far should I take this?



I promised You Documentaries this week



Little Girl Blue…Janis Biopic

On Showtime right now: “Listen to Me Marlon.” Live Clips and interviews as well as film clips from the actor before he died. Said to be really good. Playing a lot. Record it ahead of time if you have that option.

Madam Phung’s Last Journey: True Cinema Verite about  transgender’s sheltering and protecting each other in Vietnam

Mia Madre (Italy) about female filmmaker

“Palio” Italy. About travel in Italy.

“Sembene” Political take on Sengales

“Taxi” Iranian film taken from car camera. This filmmaker has been banned since 2010.

“Song of Lahore” Pakistan. A traveling Pakistani troupe of musicians.

“Jacskson Heights” US  A part of Queens where 167 languages are spoken.’

“Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans.” Its about his obsession with race cars and the road it took him on.

“Ingrid Bergman, In her Own Words.” A documentary about the actress.

“In the Basement” What people do with their basements

“What our Fathers Did.” Another take on the Holocaust.


Good intentions clobber Mental Health Writer and Volunteer.

I’ve hit a snag with mental health advocacy. I volunteered for years at the nearby drop in. I had high security clearance and brought meetings into the psych ward. I developed an eating disorder meeting for them. I got sick with depression and a three year struggle with trying to get Tardive Dyskinesia under control…with both conditions I couldn’t volunteer for about a year  and I fell off the volunteer rolls. Well again, well, well enough, I offered to bring a gentle Pilates Mat class and even get certified in group activity safety measures for them and for me. Well, as you can imagine, since the whole ‘story’ I tried to nicely write about them went south, they no longer think I’m ‘well’ enough to be a volunteer.

Despite this, I still tried to write a nice story about them and their services for International Bipolar Disorder. I interviewed the project director and took good notes. I gave her final editorial approval since I did want to quote her and wanted to improve our relationship. I guess I sent too many emails because as my deadline came and went, she was on vacation and I did not know. When she returned, I got a nasty email full of hypocritical ‘mindfulness’  telling me that her ‘intention’ is to show me kindness but I make it impossible by ‘bombarding’ her with emails. My deadline for the story had come and gone and I wanted to finish it. She works with the mentally ill so why should she expect so much out of me? Am I being discriminated against because I’m too high functioning? Let’s face it, I’m verbal, I’m not all doped up and docile and I ask questions. I try to express myself and spread the good news about treatment options, present and in the pipeline. And you would not believe how much is in the pipeline!!! Ketamine is a comin’!

tumblrbot asked:


Manic While Mystery Shopping

So I was mystery shopping after getting my certification and driving from one supermall to another. I was the type of customer that the workers remembered so if I felt I was getting to familiar and and so forth I would tell the mystery shopping people and they would take me off the account.

They always pay you less than you are going to want to spend. For example, I was sent to L’Occitane, a shop with perfums and soaps that start at forty bucks. And for that shop you are given 30 to spend. Yuk, right?

Then I got a string of ‘shops’ that’s what jobs are called at Chanel and Dior cosmetic counters. A total of six. One after another, pretending to be interested, accepting a makeover, fun, right? Not so much, really. I was given 80 to spend, and their eye shadows start at 50.00. And if you get a makeover for free or go to a class, you will have so much pushed on you that it’s hard to stay within budget. The company was called “A Closer Look,” for those of you who want to do this kind of high end sampling.

Then there was the three hour long report with 200 questions on the back end of each shop.
And there was something wrong with their computer system. So I had to do each of these reports twice. That was the end of mystery shopping for me. Because the report was due tomorrow and they didn’t take any responsibility. Plus I had incurred credit card debt on account of being in stores, shopping, while manic. Never a fine idea.

Brainwashing using trendy Buzzwords.

If I see the words “Mindful” “Balance” or “Recovery” again I am going to barf. They are just overused. We are being spoonfed the essential values and virtues of these words, “Mindfulness,” “Recovery,” and “Balance.” And when we swallow these buzzwords wholesale, do all of us really understand what they mean? Do they mean a different thing to each individual? And the arrogance, as if these are the only words to describe a conscious effort to live and heal constructively.

Mindful:  To me it sounds like a passive buzzing in the head while knitting or making jewelry. I much prefer the word “Vigilant.” Or “Watchful,” even “aware.” My life means the world to me and after all this time, I’m not going to have it yanked away by some destructive distraction, like body image preoccupation 24/7.

Recovery. From what? Cholera? I much prefer the term “Reclaim.” Because when we live in the solution we are reclaiming the life that my higher power, whom I call God, wanted me to have.

And “Balance.” How ‘catchall’ can you be? If I’m passionate about something, I’m “All In,” (if you want to see a really trending phrase) How about the words “Even,  “Equal?” “Proportionate?” “Varied?” “Integrated?”

I ran into the ‘balance’ business with a disingenuous eating disorder therapist who did not understand that certain psych meds slow people’s metabolism, drive their hunger, at least mine, and weight is hard to keep off. I was discharged for being ten pounds heavy. She said I was not making progress.  I went in there for a destructive case of exercise bulimia, which is not unlike cutting. THAT was the behavior we were supposedly treating, not whether or not I was carrying a few extra.

She did not understand that the meds made some sugary and starchy foods super triggering- kick starting endless food binges. I’m better off avoiding these foods completely.  She said that that attitude was not ‘balanced,’ and even eating disordered in and of itself. Seven years later I find myself with metabolic syndrome, half way down the road to the big ‘D.’ I take no solace in the fact that I’m right. But she was wrong and she was the ‘expert.’ Now she claims to be a “Celebrity Eating Disorder Therapist,” has straightened a beautiful head of hair, has lip implants and botox. Good for her. She now charges over 600.00 an hour. Her photos have a wind machine blowing her long straight hair. A Wind Machine? That is so 80’s. Poor girl. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

So many bipolar people have an eating disorder (14% according to a recent study cited in Psych Central from the Cincinnatti College of Medicine) that it’s not even funny. So for an eating disorder therapist to have no clue re antipsychotic’s metabolic side effects was dismaying.

BUT ANYWAY, back to the BUZZWORDS. If you start hearing a word harped on all the time, that’s because it’s the lynchpin of someone’s platform. I have a platform. We all do. But what’s good for me is not necessarily good for you, or you, and that’s why the mass overuse of these platitudes representing key values for our lives bug me.

I’m into individualized therapy. I revel in the idea that we can use new ideas (that we think of ourselves) to solve old problems.   Clichés are hollow.

Allow yourself some passion and to value one thing over another. If one thing matters more to you than anything else, allow it to weight more.  it might be because it’s a good thing that makes you happy!

EZ to track full fall list of TV, Cable and Streaming Shows to come.

Allison’s Fall TV Lineup

Fall TV

Quantico Sept 27 ABC young, ethnically diverse FBI recruits (Sundays)

Rosewood (based on Movie) Fox 9-23

Rosewood Fox 9-23 Miami police detective with a pathologist (Wed)

Limitless based on movie about designer drug CBS sept 22 (Tue)

Empire Fox 9-23 (Wed)

Blindspot NBC 9-21 Crime drama (Mondays)

How to get away with Murder ABC 9-24 (Thursday)

2016 “Vinyl” directed by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorcese

PBS Sept 27 Indian Summer (TV Series.)

  • Indian Summers PBS 9-27 has to do with India under British Colonial Rule (Sunday)
    1. Blood and Oil is an upcoming American prime time television soap opera created by Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne, set to air on ABC as a part of the 2015–16 television season on Sundays at 9pm as of September 27… More, 2015. Wikipedia (Sundays)

der colonial rule in early 1900s

Code Black 9-30 ERCode Black (TV Series 2015– ) – IMDb Wed

Internet Movie Database


Still of Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzmán in Code Black (2015) Still of Marcia Gay Harden, Luis Guzmán and Raza Jaffrey in Code Black (2015 Still of Marcia …

Episodes - ‎Release Info - ‎Soundtracks - ‎Awards

The Affair 10-4 Sunday

Homeland Show 10-4 Sunday

The Widower pbs 10-4The Widower is a made for TV film, that was broadcast in three one-hour installments, on ITV in 2014. It portrays the crimes of real-life murderer Malcolm Webster. ITV described the show as: “The Widower tells how, over a 13-year period, a seemingly mild-mannered male nurse, Malcolm Webster, set about poisoning and murdering his first wife, attempting to do the same to his second wife and moving on to a further scheme to deceive his third fiancée.” [1] The series was written by Jeff Pope.[2]

Agent X Sharon Stone TNT Nove 8 action adventure

The Knick 10-16 Cinemax

Red Oaks Amazon 10-9 Drama (Stream)

Nov 17 Medical Drama Code Black

Blind Spot…someone who has forgotten their identity

House of Cards….When?

B CSI FINALE 2 hours with orig cast CBS 9-27


The Night Manager is an upcoming miniseries directed by Susanne Bier and starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander and Elizabeth Debicki. The director, in my humble opinion, Suzanne Bier, is one of the greatest ever.

Budget Cuts for Arts focused “Drop In” centers for mental health consumers in Fl

A huge amount of County money was cut from the Arts-focused “9MusesArtsReach” up here. When asked why the funds were cut, the county said they were looking for more transparency and weren’t sure what they are paying for. A judge on the bench here locally snapped back, “Well, when you see our Emergency rooms and jails overflowing with mentally ill people, you’ll know what YOU WERE paying for, and I guarantee you, this will be a whole lot more expensive, not to mention putting the community at risk, both the mentally unwell and the rest of them.  This probably wont affect Rebel’s Drop in as they are an arm of a local hospital that is the fifth largest provider of hospital care in the country. They have money. 9Muses will really be hurt. And I like it there. Their depression support group is truly transformative and supportive. What they do not support is the depression and negative self talk or thoughts themselves. “Hold onto the Good!” is their motto and they are kinda ‘tough love.’ They won’t let you sit in your garbage.