Treating Chronic Mental Illness Since 1979

Winter 2011

About Hanbleceya

Hanbleceya is a long-term, residential-like treatment program designed to teach those afflicted with a chronic mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and dual diagnoses, the skills necessary to live a happy, healthy and independent life.

“There is no health, without mental health.”

-Former U. S. Surgeon General David Satcher

Message From Kerry

The holidays can be a stressful time, for sure, as it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy.  Some people think that only people with mental illnesses have to pay attention to their mental health.  However, mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.  The truth is that your emotions, thoughts and attitudes affect your energy, productivity and overall health.  Good mental health strengthens your ability to cope with everyday hassles and more serious crises and challenges.  It is essential to creating the life you want.  For individuals who suffer from a mental illness, this time of year can be especially challenging.  Learning to manage one’s symptoms and maintaining positive mental health is an integral and essential component of one’s overall health.  Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life.  Just as you brush your teeth or get a flu shot, you can take steps to promote your mental health.  As you read through this edition of our newsletter, we hope you find some helpful ways to manage and promote your mental health while enjoying the season and the new year to come.

Have a mentally happy and healthy holiday season!

Kerry Paulson, Owner/Business Manager since 2005

Message From Karlyn

Mental health and wellness are influenced by a variety of biological, social, physical and psychological factors.  Biologically, mental health can be shaped by illness, chemical imbalance, medication and family history/genetics.  Socially, the state of one’s support system, work or school environment, the economy, cultural norms and stigma, and housing conditions all contribute to the state of mental wellness.  Physically, mental health can be affected by physical activity, nutritional balance, sleep habits and fresh air.  Psychologically, mental wellness can be influenced by attitudes, faith, a sense of purpose, humor, etc.  As such, developing and maintaining mental health wellness would include efforts in each of these areas: the mind, the community, the body and the spirit.

Whether an individual suffers from mental illness, is strained by a busy work schedule, is dealing with the weight of a personal matter or is tense in preparation for the upcoming holidays, maintaining quality mental wellness requires a holistic approach.  Combining self-care efforts in each the biological, social, physical and psychological domains is an important element of balancing the overall wellness of an individual as being healthy in one domain will not make up for a deficit in another.  For example, being physically fit does not counteract a lack of social support in the same way that having a rewarding work environment is not enough to manage a biological illness.  A mental health “toolbox” needs to contain a number of healthy self-care strategies that cover the mind, community, body and spirit arenas.  Please review the section on “Strategies for Good Mental Health Wellness” for ideas and suggestions on how to build and fortify your own self-care toolbox.  Happy Health!

“Health is a large word.  It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well…and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.”

~James H. West

Dr. Karlyn Pleasants, Owner/Co-Program Director, a member of the Hanbleceya Community since 1997

Community Member Forum

My story starts where it ended, in an apartment over skid-row.  I was sober yet psychotic, broke and about to have another anxiety attack and psychotic break I had had five times over the last six months.  These events had taken me not only to hospitals, police cars, and jail but lately what had steadily and quite sincerely began to appear and feel more and more like hell itself.

I still couldn’t understand why staying on meds and attending 12 Step meetings yet still having monthly binges when my check came in wasn’t working.  That sounds silly to me now but even the doctors back then seemed to fall for it.

Thankfully, that day, I did find the clarity to recall where I did stay sober and sane.  I’d been there for six months and had been rather well.  I didn’t like it but when faced yet again with a trip to actual hell, I had gotten reasonable.

I called my mother for Will’s number (my therapist at Hanbleceya a year prior).  With the voices already locked in and the panic beginning, Will thankfully answered.  He worked me in to a hospital via bus and gave me an assignment to write a letter to myself describing what things were like for me while I was on the bus.  I have since lost the letter but had at that point begun my quest back to Hanbleceya.

Here I am, sitting at a desk, sane and sober over a year since then.  No hospital visits, no police or jails and a clear and distinct assuredness that I am not in hell.  Sometimes it’s heaven, sometimes it’s a lot of work, but never has it been hell for me again.

Hanbleceya has taught me to diffuse my mind’s tendency towards psychotic delusion through simple steps of recognition and reaching out.  I’ve incorporated prayer, meditation and things that work for me and give me comfort and I’m okay today.  I’m on the right track, have completed the 12-Steps of recovery, started the 12-Steps of Alanon and even quit smoking.  I haven’t had a cigarette in over a month!

Heaven’s not as easy as I always thought it would be but hell is assuredly, significantly worse.  I’ll stay in heaven and thank Hanbleceya.

~Ward B, a member of the Hanbleceya community since June 2009

CD Corner

Holiday Sobriety: Avoiding Relapse

The holiday season is a time where families,friends,acquaintances and total strangers come together to celebrate life, relationships with one another and the common thread of gratefulness that is central to our holiday culture. Although it may appear on the surface to be a joyous occasion, individuals in recovery can experience some of the most difficult times of their sobriety during the holiday season. There are many reasons that the holidays can be an arduous time for loved ones in recovery, but none more than the multitude of triggers that recovering addicts experience throughout this time of the year. Finances are stretched, tension is high within family systems and drinking is not only acceptable but encouraged during the holidays. The world has not and will not change because we are in recovery, meaning that as recovering addicts we have a responsibility to manage triggers and recognize relapse behavior long before taking a drink actually happens.


Triggers during the holiday time for a recovery addict will consist of things like people drinking excessively at parties, ruminating on “old times,” fear of financial insecurities, long to-do lists and family interactions. Although these triggers may seem normal throughout the holiday time, it is the addict who may turn to substance use to “manage” the feelings and experiences he or she may be having. Nonetheless, 12 Step recovery provides a strong foundation to not only manage, but thrive in situations similar to those described above. The concepts of fellowship, reliance on a Higher Power, group therapy, taking an introspective look at oneself, being of service to and working with others are all magnificent action oriented tools that can be used to combat triggers during the holiday season.


Being new in recovery, there are some definite suggestions that can be made in regards to avoiding and managing triggering situations, in addition to one’s recovery program, during a time like this.

  • Avoiding parties that will be serving alcohol or attending these parties, if you must, with another sober individual.
  • Write out a plan of what actions you can take when experiencing triggers.
  • Have a list of phone numbers of other sober people you can call.
  • Attend regular meetings. Many areas have “Alkathons” which are round the clock AA/NA meetings around holiday times.
  • Write daily gratitude lists which are especially helpful when a recovering addict is feeling down and depressed.

 All in all, the holidays are a wonderful occasion to show gratitude for the things life has provided and for the interaction with other people that make the holiday time so special. The recovering addict must take extra precaution when approaching times like these and accept support from family, loved ones, and friends on their journey in recovery. Being the loved one of an individual in recovery can be especially difficult during the holidays, but with support, love, tolerance and patience, the whole family can enjoy the addict’s sober holiday season.


~Christopher M. Bennett, Assistant Chemical Dependency Coordinator, Member of the Hanbleceya family since 2009 

Strategies for Good Mental Health Wellness

According to Sydney Youngerman-Cole, RN, BSN, RNC and Katy E. Magee, MA, "Many mental health problems begin when physical stress or emotional stress triggers chemical changes in your brain. The goal of treatment and prevention is to reduce stress and restore normal chemical processes in your brian." Coping skills are methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Obtaining and maintaining good coping skills does take practice. However utilizing these skills becomes easier over time. Most importantly, good coping skills make for good mental health wellness.

Some good coping skills include:

  • Meditation and Relaxation Techniques: Practicing deep breathing techniques, the relaxation response, or progressive muscle relaxation are ways to help reduce stress and induce relaxation.
  • Time to Yourself: It is important to set aside time everyday to allow yourself to relax and escape the stress of life. Give yourself a private, mini vacation from everything going on around you.
  • Physical Activity: Moving around and getting the heart rate up causes the body to release endorphins (the body's feel good hormones). Exercising provides some stress relief.
  • Reading: Escape from reality completely by reading. Reading can help you to de-stress by taking your mind off everyday life.
  • Friendship: Having friends who are willing to listen and support one through good and bad times is essential.
  • Humor: Adding humor to a stressful situation can help to lighten the mood.
  • Hobbies: Having creative outlets such as listening to music, drawing or gardening are great ways to relax and relieve everyday stress.
  • Spirituality: Actively believing in a higher power or divine being can have many health benefits. In recent studies, it has been found that people who pray have better mental health than those who do not.
  • Pets: Taking care of a pet helps distract the mind from stressful thoughts. Studies Show that pets are a calming influence in people's lives.
  • Sleeping: The human body needs a chance to rest and repair itself after a long and stressful day. Sleeping gives the body this chance so that it is ready to perform another day.
  • Nutrition: Eating foods that are good for you not only improve your physical health, but they play a major role in your mental health. When your body gets the proper nutrients, it is better able to function in every capacity.

There are also negative coping skills which can hinder progress in dealing more positively with stress. Actions that are harmful to both mental and physical health include:

  • Drugs
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Self-mutilation
  • Ignoring or storing hurt feelings
  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Excessive working
  • Avoiding problems
  • Denial

These actions offer only temporary relief, if any, from stress. Ignoring or covering up how you feel does not solve the problem and the next time the situation arises, you will still have no way of dealing with it.

The next time you find yourself faced with a difficult or stressful circumstance, remember to practice your new coping skills. These skills lead to good mental health and a happier you.

Ten Tips for Better Mental Health

  1. Build Confidence - identify your abilities and weaknesses together, accept them, build on them and do the best you can with what you have.
  2. Accept Compliments - many of us have difficulty accepting kindness from others but we all need to remember the positive in our lives when times get tough.
  3. Make Time for Family and Friends - these relationships need to be nurtured; if taken for granted they will dwindle and not be there to share life's joys and sorrows.
  4. Give and Accept Support - friends and family relationships thrive when they are "put to the test." Just as you seek help when you are having a tough time, a friend or family member might come to you in their time of need.
  5. Create a Meaningful Budget - financial problems are big causes of stress, especially in today's economy. Over-spending on our "wants" instead of our "needs" can compound money worries. Writing down where your money is going helps you keep a closer eye on your finances.
  6. Volunteer - being involved in community gives a sense of purpose and satisfaction that paid work cannot. Find a local organization where your life skills can be put to good use.
  7. Manage Stress - we all have stressors in our lives but learning how to deal with them when they threaten to overwhelm us will help to maintain our mental health.
  8. Find Strength in Numbers - sharing a problem with others who have had similar experiences may help you find a solution and will make you feel less isolated. Even talking about situations with people who have not experienced what you are going through is a good way to gain outside perspective.
  9. Identify and Deal with Moods - we all need to find safe and constructive ways to express our feelings of anger, sadness, joy and fear. Channeling your emotions creatively is a wonderful way to work off excess feelings. Writing (keeping a journal), painting, dancing, making crafts, etc. are all good ways to help deal with emotions.
  10. Learn to Be at Peace with Yourself - get to know who you are, what makes you really happy and learn to balance what you can and cannot change about yourself.

Adapted from the Canadian Mental Health Association of Richmond, BC


Did you know... about mental health and mental illnesses?

  • One-half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24.[1]  Despite effective treatments, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment.[2]
  • Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.[3]
  • Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to have access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of care.[4]
  • In the United States, the annual economic, indirect cost of mental illness is estimated to be $79 billion.  Most of that amount—approximately $63 billion—reflects the loss of productivity as a result of illnesses.[3]
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.[5]  Adults living with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions.[6]
  • Twenty-four percent of state prisoners and 21 percent of local jail prisoners have a recent history of a mental health disorder.[7]  Seventy percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental disorder with at least 20 percent experiencing significant functional impairment from a serious mental illness.[8]
  • Over 50 percent of students with a mental disorder, age 14 and older, drop out of high school—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.[9]

[1] Kessler, R., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, & Walters, E ., Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Co-morbidity Survey Replication (NCSR). General Psychiatry, 62, June 2005, 593-602.

[2]Wang, P., Berglund, P., et al. Failure and delay in initial treatment contact after first onset of mental disorders in the National Co-morbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). General Psychiatry, 62,
June 2005, 603-613.

[3] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Md., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services,1999, pp. 408409, 411.

[4] New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America. Final Report. United States Department of Health and Human Services: Rockville, MD, 2003, pp. 49-50.

[5] Colton, C.W. & Manderscheid, R.W., ( 2006, April). Congruencies in increased mortality rates, years of potential life lost, and causes of death among public mental health clients in eight States. Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy, 3(2), 1-14. Available at

[6] Manderscheid, R., Druss, B., & Freeman, E . (2007, August 15). Data to manage the mortality crisis: Recommendations to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Washington, D.C.

[7]Glaze, L.E. & James, D.J. (2006, September). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics: Washington, D.C.

[8] Skowyra, K.R. & Cocozza, J.J. (2007) Blueprint for change. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice; Policy Research Associates, Inc. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Available at
[9] U.S. Department of E ducation. Twenty-third annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act. Washington, D.C., 2006.

Susan Daly
Ryan Ortega

Chris Bennett

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This Center works to focus attention on system reform to ensure access to culturally competent services and treatment for all Americans and to help and support families of color who are dealing with mental illness.

(Support Technical Assistance Resource Center) - funded by CMHS, this center provides support, technical assistance, and resources to help improve and increase the capacity of consumer operated programs to meet the needs of persons living with mental illnesses from diverse communities.

Mental Health America is the nation's largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; & delivering urgently needed Programs and Services.

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