Panel Discussion

Why do families uprooted by mental illness need support?
Wed. Aug 29 from 4-7 pm at the Bedford Council of Aging
12 Mudge Way (Park in the back)

The event includes an Open House from 4-5pm in which folks can browse the tables, see the programs that are available to them, take handouts, and meet Max the Therapy dog! Program staff will be available to answer questions. Light refreshments will be available!

From 5:30-6:30, there is a panel discussion about why families uprooted by mental illness need support, tools, resources.  We will answer the following questions and questions from the audience!

1) When do you know your loved one is going through more than a phase?2) How can you obtain help for a person that refuses help?

3) When do you call the police, or section a person; how bad is bad?

4) What if your loved ones with mental illness have minor children; how can we provide help for them?

Although the panelists will be taped by Bedford TV, audience members will notbe televised.The 50/50 raffle will be in full force!  There is a link on the website for participants to acquire a raffle ticket:

Registration for the panel event is preferred but not required:  Event URL is

The Re-Formed Community Care

There is a shift going on in the delivery of services for adults (age 19+) in our state, Massachusetts.  In addition to being more clinically focused with evidence-based programs, there is a bona fide “family focus approach and emphasize role of peer support.”

The new model intends to promote (my comments in italics):

  • Active engagement and assertive outreach to prevent homelessness; since the vast majority of individuals with serious mental illness make up the largest quantity of homeless individuals
  • Clinical coverage 24/7/365 days a year because symptoms and illness do not have a time schedule nor a predictive reckoning other than cyclic episodes and patterns; these come when they do and it is good to recognize that sickness comes when it comes.
  • Consistent assessment and treatment planning Keep the focus on what is best at this time and consider what may be needed based on current behaviors or concerns.
  • Risk assessment, crisis planning and prevention Best laid plans do not always work.  Prevention increases the odds for improved outcomes.  Having a plan and a go to increases everyone’s confidence in managing crises.
  • Skill building and symptom management, The most essential skill for individuals with serious mental illness.  Their families and loved ones need assistance with this also.  Again, let’s look for improved outcomes, safety, and connection for all.
  • Behavioral and physical health monitoring and support Collaboration is key and this model depends on it.  Including family and loved ones needs to be emphasized, however, since we know that their loved ones matter to them.
  • Addiction treatment support;  So many of the seriously ill have co-morbid substance use disorders.  They are part and parcel of the same human system.  One cannot be treated without the other.
  • Family engagement; WE know how valuable our input it.  All of the research indicates improved outcomes when family is engaged.  It is nice to see this vital component of care added to the re-forming of service delivery.
  • Peer support and recovery coaching  With the additional training that these like-minded individuals have, they are often in the best position to engage an individual with serious mental illness to move forward on managing their symptoms and embracing recovery.  Like family members, tThey are an important bridge in treatment.
  • Reduced reliance on emergency departments, hospitals and other institutional levels of care.  With fewer beds, less restricted environments, and humane solutions, seriously mentally ill people can be offered the best opportunities for managing their chronic illnesses with the level of support and educaiton that they, and their loved ones, need.

The video below explains how the reforms were identified and the shift to this model which promises to be more effective than the previous community based model.  Let’s hope so, anyway.


Replanting Lives: Directions!

Replanting Lives” is a support group that meets twice a month, the 2nd Tuesday morning (10:30-noon at the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle MA) and second  Wednesday evening (7-8:30pm at the Bedford COA at 12 Mudge Way), based on the book, “Replanting Lives Uprooted by Mental Illness: A Practical Guide for Families,” by Nancy Pizzo Boucher.

Directions to the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle are easy since it is right on Route 225 in Carlisle! Directions to the Bedford Council on Aging: take Great Road to Elm Street. At the stop sign, go right and then left (there is a sign showing the COA is to the left). There is a large parking area. When you walk in the building, go straight! You are there! Any questions, feel free to call 781-405-8376 for assistance.

Each FREE session is conducted by Mara Briere, MA, CFLE and a co-facilitator

Unconditional love; conditional participation

When I was walking around trees, following deer tracks, listening to the music of red-wing blackbirds, I realized that I love my family members unconditionally. It does not matter to my loving them that they are unwell. Where the conditional aspects of our relationships come in are around their behaviors when they are unwell. When they are hurtful, dangerous to me, unkind, disrespectful, scary – these are behaviors I don’t let into my life from anyone, and that means, not from them either. I am willing to have them in my life when they are able to behave in ways that I want to be a part of. The strings are, “As long as you are able to be around me, on my terms, we’re good.” I am not closing any doors. I am merely defining the parameters for participating in my life. And my (currently) estranged family members seem to be aware of this. I consider their estrangement from me as a way that they are protecting me from their unwellness. What are your thoughts?

Recovery: What does it mean?


From our Sept 2017 Newsletter!

The certified pet therapy pair went to the annual awards ceremony at the Bedford VA’s Veteran Community Care Program in Lowell.  Max visits with the veterans every week, performing a series of tricks, and providing nurturing and support to those who need a furry friend with a wet nose.  The ceremony was conducted by the veterans and they shared stories of their recoveries, their appreciation for one another, their service to the community there and the greater community of which they are a part of.  Their model of recovery is based on the SAMHSA (2015) working definition:

“recovery as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. Recovery is built on access to evidence-based clinical treatment and recovery support services for all populations. Learn more about SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery — 2012.”

It is useful for family members to understand this focus on recovery because it includes management of the symptoms and offer hope, relief, and a call for strategies including setting appropriate limits.

The full discussion on this working definition can be found here: