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LOCAL ACT OF MENTAL HEALTH HEROISM

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Mental Health Affairs Blog honors a local mental health hero, Sarae C., working at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle. The importance of kindness, empathy, and attention are essential when helping strangers with a mental health condition. Heroism goes a long way regarding long-term prognosis and short-term crisis stabilization for people with a mental health diagnosis.

In terms of everyday people, good outcomes, and healthy living, people with a severe mental health disorder means staying out of trouble in a world where things can quickly go wrong. In doing so, this blog illustrates why endorsing local mental health awareness is key to the success of people with mental health conditions living in the local community. The message here is that people need to take more time to understand the little stuff that aggravates people, even without a clinical diagnosis. In doing so, all of us, even the layperson, can take a more realistic and pragmatic approach to interacting with people in distress and struggling with their mental health.

Last weekend I was symptomatic. Usually, my mental health is around or near the baseline. A baseline doesn’t mean healthy, unhealthy, or something in between. It means the clinical picture or a person’s average mental quality. As I said, last weekend, I was symptomatic and far from the baseline. My words were colliding, and I wasn’t making much sense verbally. I was goal-directed but confused and not executing my ADLs well. I was making mistakes when it came to my daily endeavors and, as a result, becoming less safe.

Many people can be symptomatic and safe in their homes, tucked away from others, or in risky situations. I was so ‘off’ that just about any case was unsafe for me. Given my location, Barclays Subway Station in Brooklyn, and the time of day, Rush Hour, I began panicking, revving up my existing mental health symptoms further. At that point, I knew I needed immediate respite if I was ever to find my way out of the confusing subway station, one of the biggest in North America.

I planned to go to a hotel and check-in for the night to calm down, reconstitute, and center myself. I had already notified my therapist. On the phone earlier in the day, I advised my therapist that if I decompensated further, I would go to the nearest ER for help. Unless I lost further ground, I planned to proceed to a local hotel to rest for the night. After arriving at the Radisson in New Rochelle via Uber from Brooklyn, I checked into the hotel. The front desk receptionist was kind and directed me to the restaurant inside so I could get a bite to eat before going upstairs. After my day, a quick meal would be harmless and not pose an additional risk to my mental health.

Disability Card

The pizza I ordered was delicious. Upon paying for my meal, my credit card got declined. I had been getting fraud alerts all day, and I was sure my declined card was from yet another fraud alert. As I took out my cell phone to address the issue, it began powering down. The cell battery was dead, and I had no way of paying for my meal. Getting more embarrassed and upset, I excused myself from the feed. I told the waitress I needed to charge my phone before paying for my dinner and being on my way. The waitress said, ‘Try the front desk,’ which is what I did.

Taking out my disability card, I approached the front desk and said, ‘I have a mental Illness. I must charge my phone. I don’t have a USB plug. Can you help me?’

Sarae at the front desk read the card and understood the gravity of looking and finding me a phone charger. Call it hospitality or just insight into the everyday frustrations and trivialities that irritate the average person but can trigger someone with a mental health disorder. I am endorsing this young woman at the Radisson for her kindness, empathy, and help last weekend. The manager is a local mental health hero and shows how compassion and empathy go well in hand when someone is struggling with a mental health condition.

Before getting to the hotel, I was at my mental health limit for mishaps. I was distraught and began to panic. I realized I couldn’t pay for my pizza and had no phone battery life to escape one last jam. The desk clerk understood that being hospitable meant going the extra mile and finding a charger in the back office. The hotel staff is why I had everything I needed to reconstitute without further incident. So, look around you, and ask yourself: how can I help someone in my life? When the opportunity for local heroism presents itself in your life, take it!

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice in New York City. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist, and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a ‘2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10’ award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes about his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

‘I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery,’ Guttman says. ‘After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my ‘break,’ I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others.’

‘In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity, and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and Recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients.’

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J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice in New York City. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist, and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a ‘2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10’ award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes about his lived experiences with schizophrenia. ‘I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery,’ Guttman says. ‘After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my ‘break,’ I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others.’ ‘In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity, and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and Recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients.’

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