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Connect: May 2018

Journey Mental Health Center is kicking off our advocacy and mental illness stigma busting efforts this May during Mental Health Month. It’s the start of a five-month campaign that includes TV, newspaper, and social media stories, bolstered with a year-long billboard campaign courtesy of the Adams Collaborate Program.
A cadre of volunteers, led by “This is my Journey” campaign chair Pooja Mehta, will be working with 22 Journey programs and consumers to tell their unique stories of hope, resiliency, and recovery through a multi-media blitz, including Journey’s Facebook and Twitter pages, TV news stories and newspaper articles.

The campaign is designed to:

–Decrease stigma of mental illness by putting a face and name to the issue,
–Increase Journey’s name recognition
–Establish advocacy efforts for people living with mental illness and addiction, and
–Recognize Journey for the community asset that it is.

It’s a large undertaking, that’s for sure.


Peter Rossmeissl

Pooja, an honors  graduate of Duke University, formed the university’s first-ever NAMI student chapter. She is detailed, energetic, enthusiastic, and shines at keeping people on task.

Pooja also lives with, but manages well, her severe anxiety.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and how far I’ll be going,” she says.

Others participating in the billboard campaign include Peter Rossmeissl, a peer support specialist with Journey’s PROPs Program; Jenny King, a peer support specialist in the Journey to Health and Wellness Program;  Joe Mannchen, a transportation  specialist in Journey’s Clinic-Based Services; and Marty Croak, a Journey board member.

Special thanks the Adams Collaborate creative team, including Evan Schultz, art director; Brook Weiland, graphic designer, and Tianna Vanderei, account representative; as well as Marcia Hansen, Marcia Hansen Photographic Company, for serving as the campaign photographer.

Week by Week: ‘This is my Journey’ 

Jenny King

–May 7: Kickoff “Mental Health Awareness Month”
–May 14: Bayside Care Center/Recovery House
–May 21: Journey to Health and Wellness
–May 28: Mental Health First Aid
–June 4: Medication Assisted Therapy

–June 11: Crisis Mobilization / Crisis Stabilization
–June 18: Clinical Assessment Unit
–June 25: PROPs
–July 9: Ujima Program
–July 16: Kajsiab House

Joe Mannchen

–July 23: Clinica Latina
–July 30: Columbia County Community Services
–Aug. 6: Gateway Community Support Program
–Aug. 13: Forward Solutions Community Support Program
–Aug. 20: Alternative Sanctions Program and Drug Court
–Aug. 27: Community Treatment Alternatives / Keystone / OARS

–Sept: 3 and Sept. 10: 24/7 Crisis Hotline
–Sept.17: Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)
–Sept. 24: Family Based Services / Family Preservation Program
–Oct. 1: Yahara House
–Oct. 8: Clinic-Based Services / GROW

Marty Croak

At age 14 Kristen started battling her diagnosis of depression. By her 20s, she was re-diagnosed with bi-polar II with anxiety. Today, she lives through physical health problems – fibromyalgia– that affect her mental state.

Yet this fall, Kristen will be pursuing a dual master’s degree in art therapy and counseling from Adler University in Chicago.

The 37-year-old has been on a long and winding road in her journey to recovery.

“The medications I was taking affected me mentally in ways I wouldn’t imagine. I started hallucinating and that’s when things went downhill,” Kristen says. “I couldn’t work so I had to move home. It was horrifying. I hit rock bottom and started hurting myself.”

Without insurance, she couldn’t get medications but eventually found her way to Journey’s Bayside Care Center, where she stayed for two weeks.

“The first couple of days were super scary. I was emotionally unstable and experienced auditory hallucinations that were negative,” Kristen says. “I was a walking zombie, shuffling my feet because of all the medication I was on. I resisted staff help, but after 48 hours I was able to go outside. I started meeting and talking to people and participating in activities during the day. Staff helped me complete my disability paperwork for fibromyalgia.”

Today, Kristen is a caregiver for the elderly, and goes to the UW Pain Management Clinic to help her with her chronic pain.

She calls Saima Chauhan, a Journey therapist, her biggest cheerleader.

“Saima has been a godsend,” Kristen says. “I tend to work well with people who are straightforward. Saima is both sympathetic and nurturing, yet she is a straight shooter. She reminds me of how far I’ve come.”

Kristen is acutely aware of the stigma of living with mental illness. “I lost friends after I attempted suicide,” she says. “Some people used the fact that I am bi-polar II against me. I’ve lost relationships over my illness. The amount of stigma we face is incredible. I want to tell the world that you don’t need to be scared of me. I’m not going to harm you. My diagnosis doesn’t define me.”

Journey Mental Health Center Emergency Services Unit is an integral part of Journey’s continuum of care in the mental health community. Connect sat down with Hannah to learn more about it.

Connect:  Let’s talk about two specific Journey programs in Journey’s Emergency Services Unit – Bayside Care Center and Recovery House. Tell us about them.

Hannah: Sure. Journey’s Bayside Care Center is for individuals experiencing an immediate mental health crisis. It’s a non-restrictive facility, meaning people may come and go. We screen clients to determine their level of acuity. Bayside offers 12 beds and serves as a hospital diversion program for individuals not at risk of harming themselves or others. It’s a cost effective for insurers and governmental agencies when compared to the cost of a stay in an inpatient unit at a hospital.

Journey’s Recovery House serves as a step-down facility for individuals who recently experienced a mental health crisis, but do not need the same level of care afforded by Journey’s Bayside Care Center. Recovery House is a community-based residential facility with space for six residents at a time.

Connect: Why are Journey’s Bayside Care Center and Recovery House so important to the community?

Hannah: Journey’s Bayside Care Center and Journey’s Recovery House are integral pieces in the recovery journey for people in Dane County recovering from a mental health crisis. These programs allow individuals to get mental health services and develop recovery plans in a setting that is not as restrictive as a hospital inpatient unit.

Connect: Let’s switch topics. Journey operates the area’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline. Are your crisis workers on the phone busy?

Hannah: Sadly, we’re very busy. The 24/7 Crisis Hotline gets between 3,500 and 3,700 incoming calls per month, or 120 calls a day. Not only do we take in-bound calls, but we also provide follow-up to individuals who call our number … to check on them and make sure they are OK. We are here to listen and to help.

Connect: What should a family member, friend or co-worker do in the event someone exhibits signs of needing help?

Hannah:  One of the most important things for concerned friends/family to do, is to take the signs seriously. Talk with the individual about their concerns, and the troubling signs that they are seeing. Provide the individual the contact information for  Journey’s 24/7 Crisis Line. That number is 608-280-2600, and if needed, sit with them while they call us for support. Be willing to talk to the crisis staff about what your concerns are for the individual.

Ron Luskin wants people to have access to critically important mental health services, regardless of their ability to pay or cultural background, and it’s one of the reasons he joined the Journey board.

“Everyone needs a chance in life to succeed and reach their full potential. Those in need must be assured of access to mental health service for themselves or their children,” Ron says.

Stability and good mental health, he says, are key to a life focused on the pursuit of happiness. “Because of Journey, children are finding self-confidence to succeed in school and achieve their full potential. Adults want nothing more than to have success in their career and provide for their family.”

Ron was attracted to Journey because of its dedicated and passionate staff. As a new board member, he sees the organization being challenged to continue providing high quality mental health counseling with diminishing governmental funding sources.

He offers a unique skill set to the Journey board. His is great at strategic planning, marketing, communications, donor development and fundraising. Prior to joining the board, Ron helped organize and promote Journey’s Cultural Competency Skills Workshop in October 2017.

“I can help best by offering guidance in increasing awareness of Journey in the community and providing assistance in resource and donor development efforts,” he says.

Ron Luskin At A Glance
Joined board: November 2017
Journey committees: Executive Committee, Governance Committee, and Advocacy and Resource Development Committee.
Other volunteer affiliations: Downtown Madison Inc., Porchlight, Capitol Lakes Foundation, Beacon Homeless Day Resource Center Advisory Team, and Overture Center Advisory Board.
Personal: Ron resides in Downtown Madison. His hobbies include Badger sports and community affairs.

Marcia Hansen found Journey Mental Health Center, just in the nick of time.

“About 4 years ago, I was literally dropped off on the front steps of Journey. This was my last chance to find life again. Journey cares. Journey advocates for those who struggle, feel lost, or like I was just wanting to give up,” she says.

Today, Marcia serves as a Journey’s consumer representative on our board of directors.

“I have a lot of experience as a consumer in the world of mental illness,” Marcia says. “I can present a long history of significantly poor treatment, long lasting painful memories and being treated at times like I was just another disposable person.

Marcia is impressed with Journey.

“Staff members at Journey change people’s lives. They probably don’t even realize that the impact of their car and how it  filters down and spreads into the lives of the consumer’s family and friends. I appreciate the unique opportunity to serve on this board as a consumer.   I would also like to tell people’s stories through my photography.

Journey Mental Health has given me hope, and the possibility of passing that hope forward, would be life-changing,” she says.

Marcia Hansen At A Glance
Joined board: April 2018
Journey committees: Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Personal: Marcia is a certified peer support specialist and a professional commercial photographer. She served as a photographer for Journey’s 2017 Annual Report and for Journey’s public awareness campaign, “This is my Journey.” Her business, Marcia Hansen Photographic Company, can be found online at

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