In case you did not know, September has been designated as National Suicide Prevention month by the National Alliance On Mental Illness. Many of us here at the Center for Life Management in one way or another are involved in and/or impacted by suicide as a consequence of treating a wide range of mental health disorders. Over the course of my own 35 year career in mental health, I too have had personal experience with clients who have committed suicide— both those who I have directly worked with in my years as a social worker, as well as those who were being served by my organizations in my time as a CEO. Unfortunately, I have also had colleagues that have done so as well. Each and every one of these tragedies has had a profound impact on me both personally and professionally, so much so that I too, although familiar and informed about how and why it happens, am at a loss for words in communicating with family members and others about the WHY of suicide.

This brings me to a perplexing and lingering question in our field; is suicide really preventable? Or, put another way, if a person is set on taking their own life; is anyone really capable of convincing or persuading someone to not go ahead with their plan? One way of answering this question is to say that the clinical staff at CLM, through their work and given the complications of many disorders—especially depression— are regularly in communication and providing treatment with people who are prone to suicidal thinking. It is indeed a critical part of our mission and our task to assist people in getting the treatment they need and developing within them the recognition that there are always options and choices other than self-harm. The more people are experienced in recognizing the warning signs, the more realistic it is it to prevent suicide from happening. In fact, not only professionals, but all of us can play a part in better knowing who is at risk for suicide. For more on how you can learn the signs to help prevent suicide, you can go to www.suicidology.org and/or www.zerosuicide.com.



As you know, there are many causes that declare a certain day, week or month of the year to remind us of the importance of the cause. Some have a prevention focus, while others aim to increase public awareness. For example, coming up in May is Mental Health Month and more recently there was Mental Illness Awareness Week which takes place the first week of October each year. Of course being aware of a mental health issue (or any other health care issue) or condition can best benefit every person, family, organization and community when we increase awareness throughout the year . . . not just on a given month or week.

So when we say become more aware, what do we really mean as it relates to mental and behavioral health issues? Is it just a general term, or does it mean very specific situations experienced in everyday living? Webster defines awareness (noun), “as having knowledge of”, and also to be aware (adjective) as, “knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists”. You may by now be asking why these basic words and definitions matter in the fast paced world that we live in? They matter to me because I believe that each of us have probably been aware of a specific person who has experienced some type of behavioral health problem that could benefit from treatment. In the most extreme cases, one of the lessons to be learned from the most horrific violent incidents (i.e. school shootings) is that a person or family member had some knowledge or awareness of that individual’s personal struggle and in some cases how it might negatively impact others. Learning to be more aware and understanding how best to respond could in some situations be a lifesaver.

It’s important to note, we now have a program that is available nationwide called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Anyone can take the course and learn a 5-step action plan to offer help to people with the signs and symptoms of a mental illness or experiencing a crisis. If you are interested, please visit our website to learn more about MHFA and how you can become a part of building awareness and strengthening your community. You could save a life one day.



Several years ago, shortly after being hired at CLM, I ventured over to a local retail store on my lunch hour. As I walked down the aisle and approached one of the young male employees he must have noticed my CLM lapel pin which led to him telling me how much he appreciated the help he received from a counselor when he was very young. His mother took him to CLM and now he is doing great holding a full time job. I responded by saying how much I appreciated him appreciating that how at a young age he could be helped and his willingness to share his experience regarding the help he received from CLM.

Fast forward many years later, there have been others who have come forward to share their story which can make a world of difference for others now in treatment or considering getting help. If you would like to hear more about CLM success stories and storytelling, you can go to our annual reports section of this site and hear from other consumers in their own voice.


BATTER UP! – Mental Health

Now that we have launched our new website, this is the first in a new series of blogs that will be posted.  Of course, there is no shortage of heavy topics to speak to in our evolving health care field.  So I’ve decided  to start with one on the lighter side, yet still important and relevant to the progress being made with eliminating stigma and increasing public awareness of mental health.

It begins with a conversation I had a number of years ago with a psychiatrist who did some part time work for CLM.  He shared with me that one of his other jobs was as a team psychiatrist for the Boston Red Sox.  His mention of this stayed with me and then recently I came across a story reporting that at least 3 major league teams (Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals) have embraced the concept to have dedicated staff (sports psychologists).   The help is for both on and off the field issues which could get in the way of winning performance.  With baseball season in full gear, it’s a timely example of the progress being made to view getting help for a mental health issue as positive, constructive and important for the best quality of life.