A Conversation about Keeping Oregon Well - Part 1 of a 3 Part Series
Folk Time, Inc. was one of three mental health organizations who was chosen as a participant for the Kaiser Permanente's social cause campaign connected to the Kaiser Permanente Sticker Hunt. For every Sticker Hunt that was turned in, Kaiser Permanente provided $5 to one of the mental health organizations, which roughly equals $3,000 per organization this year. Thank you, Portland, for making that possible!!
Angel Prater, the Executive Director of Folk-Time, Inc., will join Sunday Parkways to talk about fighting social isolation and providing peer based mental health care. Please enjoy this article that discusses the amazing work that her organization does in Portland and across the region.
Can you tell me more about Folk Time? Your services and the people you serve?
Founded in 1985, Folk-Time, Inc. is a non-profit community service agency whose ongoing commitment is to provide a culture of inclusiveness. By providing and establishing connection through support, participation, wellness services, and dedication to the road of recovery, FolkTime provides support and advocacy for those with share lived experiences in the Portland Metro Area for over 30 years. To see the full list of programs, scroll to the end of this page.
Who does your organization impact?
Oregonians: [are] ultimately the people we serve; offering a safe place for individuals to have hope filled support and purpose. From an organizational/business perspective, we also impact the entire health system. Ranging from offering alternative supports, reducing recidivism into higher levels of care and save our tax payers money to be utilized in other areas of our state. Building bridges to fill gaps in our state, bridges between Traditional Health Care and Non-traditional Health Care.
Why is this work important?
The individuals who have accessed traditional mental health/addiction services have had a wide range of experiences, those we serve have expressed dissatisfaction and a lack of trust in our system design and care. We at FolkTime aim to bring voice and choice to our health system customers, while also working alongside provider agencies/health systems and offer quality system change support, equity and inclusion education. Being aligned with values to provide quality care, our partners/contractors love working with us to ensure Oregonians are getting quality of life opportunities though peer support.
What are some of the myths around mental health and mental illness? How should we think of mental health?
That people who have mental health experiences are violent or never get well, that they aren’t educated. This is simply just not true. Many people walk around with “mental health challenge” every day and you would never know. We have individuals who have been diagnosed on our staff and board who also have their masters and other advanced degrees. We even have allies who have PHD’s and talk about their own mental health recovery. Stigma is real! The only way to reduce shame and guilt driven stigma is to “normalize” mental health and addiction to allow a safe place for individuals to talk about it without their rights stolen or people reacting out of fear. Mental health impacts everyone...
What are steps that everyday people can make to make it easier to talk about and address mental health?
Learn to respond with hope, rather than fear. Allow people to express how they are feeling without judgement or criticism. Sometimes people just want and need to feel heard and validated, even when we may not understand or agree. Try to connect to the “feelings” people express. Don’t rely on diagnostic language, it only leaves room for interpretation.
Ask people what it means for them when they say things like “I’m depressed” or I’m feeling suicidal” etc. Don’t assume you know what they mean when using this language. If you assume, then you’re likely missing something underneath that needs to be expressed. Talk about what things feel like rather than “look like”. Intentional Peer Support by Shery Mead (FolkTime is the Oregon US HUB) trains everyday people (and all human service providers including clinicians) to learn to listen differently, exploring meaning, trauma and much more.
How do we know if it’s time to get mentally healthy? And what can we do for ourselves or others when we see our mental health waning?
Mental Health is an individual thing. Despite what people have been taught, it truly is individualized. Therefore, keeping well includes exploring your diet, exercise, vitamin levels and overall health supports mental wellness. TOO many people rely on a “mental health provider” to “fix them” even our commercials today are promoting “Mental Illness” and diagnosing people with their advertisements. What you can “do” when someone is having something happen and feelings of being helpless/hopeless or extreme experience, sit with them, talk listen explore what they want/need from you.
What is social isolation? And what do you think people should know about social isolation?
Social isolation is common, many people become socially isolated for various reasons. Some people feel fear about being around others when they have stigmatized, marginalized and called crazy etc. Some others, do not have the means to have social lives, many people who have been diagnosed are poor, and therefore their only real “social” interactions consist of “paid supports”. We have social programs to give individuals who have been diagnosed and isolated from other communities, they come together to learn together, do art, create groups, activities and much more. Others who have experienced social isolation, turned their attention to becoming authors, advocates, activists etc. I would encourage someone to read/learn about Consumer-Survivor- Ex Patient movement (CSX).
This sounds like a simple question, but it’s a complex modern issue - how can your average Joan and James address social isolation?
By reaching out to their community and helping to create cohesive community. Getting some education of what Recovery initiatives are exploring around the world. Mental Health in the United States is very limited – [look] to what other countries do, look like and offer. Alternatives to medication and hospitalization like Peer Respites, holistic therapy and more.
Do you have an organizational motto?
We are building something that will outlive us all!! Empowering individuals with shared lived experience. We walk alongside each individual during their journey.
Any other information you would like to share:
Thank you for all you do!!
For an in-depth look at their programs. See more below!
Programs of FolkTime:
- a. Unity Hospital Legacy Health: FolkTime staff are consumers of mental health services who have participated in specific trainings to learn how to support others in various stages of mental health recovery. Peers help in the following capacity:
i. Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) – Peers meet with individuals one-on-one to facilitate connection and empathy in a time of crisis.
ii. Inpatient Units – Peers may accompany transfers from the PES, they may meet individual’s family members, they may create longer term relationships with individuals within the facility, and they may explore bridging individuals into the community.
iii. Bridging in Community – Peers may accompany individuals to 12 Step meetings to explore and connect individuals with other peers in these communities. Peers may accompany individuals to appointments. Peers may also engage each other in the discovery of bicycle greenways and public transportation. And peers may just go to movies, meals, or cafes with individuals simply broadening the spectrum of worldview.
Clackamas County Contracted Programs:
i. Clinic Based Programs: Behavioral Health Funding
- Riverstone Crisis Clinic: Crisis Support: FolkTime Peer Support Specialists at Riverstone are able to offer genuine empathy having personally travelled similar roads of distress, discomfort, and trauma.
- Mental Health Court: Peer Support attend weekly court meetings, assist participants with recovery plan for mental health and addictions, assure participants are actively following their court ordered program, assist with entitlements, work and housing, and assist participants in developing appropriate community-based leisure activities and natural supports.
- Stewart/Hilltop Clinic: Peers advocate for participants within the clinic and support them in the community to find natural supports for long term mental health. Peer Specialists meet one-on-one with individuals and provide peer support groups.
- Sandy Clinic: Peers advocate for participants within the clinic and support them in the community to find natural supports for long term mental health
- Child and Family Navigation and Support: Family navigators/supports provide families who have children with diagnosis within the mental health/developmental service sectors, providing supports, training guidance and advocacy.
ii. Social Programs: Behavioral Health Funding:
Our Social Programs offer a safe place for people to gather together to form a community. We offer a variety of social activities, art and craft projects, writing groups, support groups, bingo and community activities as well. FolkTime believes in authenticity and encourages everyone to be themselves in order to form real connections with others. Each site offers a free hot lunch, peer support, and other community resources as needed. For more information: https://folktime.org/social-programs.
- NE Portland: Free To Be Me: The NE Portland Program is our flagship program operating at the Community of Christ Church. This program opened in 1986 offering a place for fellowship. This program is currently funded solely on fundraising efforts and is currently offering a free hot lunch, social activities, art, games, social and support groups. This program is open M, W, TH, F
- Social Program Oregon City: OC Social is open on site in downtown OC on Mon, Tues, Thurs and we meet in the community on Weds and Fri. We provide a full calendar of activities unique to that program and its members. Some of the things to do are visit with Ransom the Therapy Dog, writing group, OC Rock Club, bingo and make some dreamcatchers, puppets, or jewelry!
- Rural Outreach: Sandy/Molalla: The Rural Outreach Programs meets regularly at Ant Farm Community Cafe in Sandy and at the adult center in Molalla. These programs act as a ‘pop up shop” type of social support program. We are aimed at dotting ourselves throughout Clackamas County in order to reach even the most rural corners.
iii. Clackamas County Department of Social Services (Non-Behavioral Health)
- Warming Shelter- Providing emergency services as needed in 4 warming shelter locations in Clackamas Co. Warming shelters provide a safe and warm space for folks to get out of the cold during winters coldest nights. FolkTime will provide peers who will monitor the shelters during the hours of 7pm- 7am. This is a pilot project and hope to continue adding additional counties in the future in an effort to get our houseless peers paid to provide this support across the Metro area.
- c. Training Center: FolkTime offers a wide range of training and technical assistance to various organizations, leadership, for human service providers, clinical leadership and staff and much more. Providing in-depth trauma informed and cultural competency curriculum, activities, workshops and events.
FolkTime was recently given the privilege of housing all Intentional Peer Support (IPS) trainings in Oregon and has since created a hub supporting the implementation of consistent, high quality training opportunities across the state. Intentional Peer Support (IPS) training certifies participants as an Oregon Health Authority Traditional Health Worker Peer Support Specialist (PSS) & as an ACCBO Certified Recovery Mentor (CRM). The training also offers 40 continuing education units (CEUs). Intentional Peer Support is trained across the US and currently in seven countries. To learn more about IPS in Oregon go to www.folktime.org/training
To learn more about Intentional Peer Support US National go to: www.intentionalpeersupport.org