Bipolar Disorder Struggles led Buffalo counselor to a wonderful life

as published by The Buffalo News, by Scott Scanlon on December 8, 2017

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Recovery is possible. You can get better,” says Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy with the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer, talking with Terrance Johnson, a young man he meets with weekly.

Karl Shallowhorn has flourished during the last three decades.

Great marriage. Successful professional career. Wide circle of friends.

It’s been a far cry from the years that followed his first psychotic episode in February 1981.

Shallowhorn was 18, struggling through his second semester at General Motors Institute, and seeking solace in alcohol and other drugs.

He and his family had no inkling that bipolar disorder was about to overpower him.

“Quite honestly, the next seven years were a blur,” Shallowhorn said during a recent interview in his office at the Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHA).

His illness forced him to move from Michigan back home to Amherst with his parents, Lillie and Charles. He weathered seven hospitalizations in the behavioral health units at the former Buffalo General Hospital, Erie County Medical Center and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The turning point came 30 years ago next month, when a counselor encouraged him to attend a recovery program meeting. Such meetings have been part of his wellness strategy since.

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From Mental Health Institutionalization to Advocacy

as posted on OC87 Recovery Diaries (oc87recoverydiaries.com)

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by Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy, Compeer & The Mental Health Association of Erie County

The Beginning

Like many others who live with bipolar disorder, my journey began early in life. It was 1980. I was a college freshman; five hundred miles away from home and in a very high stress environment. I had a history of alcohol use from high school but, when I entered college, I was introduced to marijuana. Initially it was fun, but as time went on, it served to help me cope with the many stressors I experienced. Weed simply served to accelerate the problems I was experiencing.

As a result of the academic rigor, lack of a viable support system, and chemical abuse, I experienced a perfect storm of circumstances that led to my first psychotic break which included persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations, and a suicide attempt which led to me to being in a catatonic state. I was discovered by the college Residence Hall Director and taken to the local hospital’s psychiatric emergency room.

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Patrick P. Lee Foundation Awards Compeer $50,000 grant

PPL Foundation logo GOOD

 

Compeer West Inc. is proud to be recently named as an award recipient for a $50,000 grant from the Patrick P. Lee Foundation. The grant will be used to fund Compeer’s Mental Health First Aid program.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training teaches the skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be undergoing a mental health problem, substance use problem, or experiencing a crisis. There is also a youth-focused curriculum of this training that focuses on helping youth who are experiencing the same issues. Youth Mental Health First Aid trains those who work, volunteer or live with youth aged 12-18 to learn the unique signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and how to help in a mental health crisis. The training provides a 5-step action plan to those trained so they can respond appropriately in any situation. 1 million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid by a dedicated base of more than 11,800 instructors.

The Patrick P. Lee Foundation, which started in 2007, concentrates its grant-making in to two key areas: education and mental health. By targeting funds and identifying opportunity for cross-systems work, the Foundation seeks to have an immediate and measurable impact.

Compeer Announced as Major Grant Recipient

Compeer is happy to announce that The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation, in partnership with KeyBank, announced on August 23, a $2.4 million grant to support the Western New York (WNY) Mentoring Collective, a cohort of nine mentoring programs throughout the region. This group includes Compeer and Say Yes Buffalo.

This large-scale investment in mentorship will utilize the expertise of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and its statewide affiliate Mentor NY to help create a learning community among Compeer and other proven local mentoring programs. The collective will benefit together from shared best practices, capacity building, mentor training, education and assessment support over the next two years.

To learn more about the grant, check out these articles!

http://www.ralphcwilsonjrfoundation.org/ralph-c-wilson-jr-foundation-first-niagara-foundation-partner-stregthen-grow-mentoring-across-western-new-york/

http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/wilson-foundation-announces-2.4-million-for-new-york-youth-mentoring

 https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2017/08/23/mentoring-collaborative-receives-2-4-million-boost.html

 

Compeer of Greater Buffalo Appoints New Chief Program Officer

Compeer of Greater Buffalo is proud to announce its recent hire of Cheri Alvarez, who joins the Compeer team as the Chief Program Officer.

Cheri graduated from Canisius College with her Master’s Degree in Counseling Education and proceeded to commit her career to working in the Western New York non-profit community for the past 19 years. Prior to joining Compeer, Cheri served as Chief Operating Officer at YWCA WNY, and the Chief Operating Officer at Cradle Beach. Her career also includes a leadership role at Catholic Charities where she served as the Coordinator of Closing the Gap (CTG) responsible for the oversight, development and implementation of site facilitators in the Buffalo Public Schools. At Gateway-Longview she rose through positions, ultimately serving as the Director of Foster Care and Permanency Services.

“Helping others is what motivates and energizes me. Joining a team of passionate people who believe in the benefits of bringing friends together to support good mental health, makes joining the Compeer family a perfect fit,” Alvarez said.

Cheri resides in Pendleton with her husband Carlos and their two children, Caleigh and Devin. She is also a Buffalo Business First “40 Under 40″ awardee (2015), and a graduate of the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York Fellows program. Cheri will be taking on the new role of Chief Program Officer where she will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Compeer Buffalo’s programs, as well as, oversee the Compeer programs internationally. Compeer currently has 50 affiliates in three countries and eight states.

You Make a Difference. Compeer Makes It Easy.

Many thanks to our good friends at Step Out Buffalo, for their recent article on Compeer and what we do. Please take a read on the article below, and fill out our volunteer interest form and online application here on our website, if you would like to sign up with us to make a difference in the lives of others.

BY SOB CREATIVE FOR A GOOD CAUSE

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AT COMPEER, THE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS.

Compeer is an organization headquartered right here in Buffalo, NY that is making #friendshipgoals happen every. single. day.

These guys are on a mission to match volunteers and mentors in one-to-one supportive friendship relationships with children, adults, military vets, and seniors who are striving for good mental health.

Why? Because the healing power of friendship helps to change lives. That’s why chatting with your mom or grandpa or best friend can make you feel like you can take on the world, even when you’re having the toughest of days.

Here’s the thing – Compeer needs volunteers to do what they do, and a lot of ‘em! That’s where you come in. Do you like making new friends? Do you enjoy hanging out with people one-on-one, face-to-face, you know…. IRL? Maybe you’re a good listener, love sharing the ups and downs of your day with someone, or enjoy being in the company of others. If so, Compeer needs you.

What to Expect as a Volunteer

Compeer recruits, screens, and matches trained volunteer friends and mentors – anyone can sign up to volunteer and get trained! Compeer is always looking for Western New Yorkers to get on board, become positive role models, help raise self-esteem, increase social and communication skills, and encourage independence for their Compeer friends.

Compeer provides a fun, flexible volunteer opportunity that fits into pretty much anyone’s lifestyle, as they only ask for a minimum of one hour per week of your time. What you do with your Compeer friend is up to you two. Our personal favorite ideas include trying new coffee shops, window shopping, bowling, and Escape Rooms. Or, now that the weather has taken a turn for the awesome, maybe a nice walk in the park!

Volunteers will learn all about the best practices of being a good friend during training. And the best part is, the one hour a week you spend volunteering can really make a difference in someone’s life.

Join Compeer on their quest to bring people together in the name of good mental health by volunteering yourself! To learn more about how you can get involved go to compeerbuffalo.org, tell ‘em we set ya. 😉

https://stepoutbuffalo.com/you-make-a-difference-compeer-makes-it-easy/

Compeer Receives Mental Health Honor

Compeer of Greater Buffalo, dedicated to recovery through the healing power of friendship, received a Spotlight on Population Health (SOPHi) Award from P2 Collaborative of Western New York.

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In the category of promoting mental health, Compeer and its partner organizations, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, Jewish Family Service and Erie Community College, were honored for advocacy and education through the Mental Health First Aid program.

“The Mental Health First Aid program is truly a collaborative effort,” Compeer Executive Director Timothy Boling said. “Since we began delivering the program in April 2014, we have offered 87 trainings for 1,383 Mental Health First Aiders.”

Mental Health First Aid training teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training provides the skills needed to provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis. Mental Health First Aid is an international evidence-based program: In the United States, more than 700,000 people have been trained in by a dedicated base of more than 10,000 instructors across the country.

To learn more about Mental Health First Aid Training, call Karl Shallowhorn at 465-6508 or email karlmhacompeer@gmail.com.

 

Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine features “Thank You For Your Service” film screening

How Compeer’s Vet-2-Vet Program is making a difference written by Annette Pinder

On Wednesday, November 16th at 7:30pm, Compeer of Greater Buffalo (Compeer) will be hosting a special screening of the award winning film documentary “Thank You For Your Service”, starring Amy Schumer, at AMC Maple Ridge 8 Theatres in Amherst, NY. The film examines how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects American servicemen and women returning home from war.

Continue reading: https://www.flipsnack.com/7BBED9F569B/november-2016.html?p=20&b=1

Get your tickets today to attend this important film screening on military mental health
Get your tickets today to attend this important film screening on military mental health