Amid COVID, Mental Health Services and Recovery Are Key

Dave Leon, co-founder of the nonprofit mental health association Painted brain, is a licensed clinical social worker who is open to living with depression.

He believes that as someone who has experience with mental illness, he brings humility to his work as a therapist.

“Someone who hasn’t struggled … and just entered our field as a clinical professional might literally think they are sane and not everyone is.” , did he declare. “And so they’re just trying to help everyone be more like them.”

Leon said that in general he would rather change the environment around his patients than change his patients.

“What I’ve seen, particularly with my own experience with depression – and with people with anxiety, people with personality disorders – is that this is largely a very reaction. a realist to the crazy and senseless contradictions that we are supposed to bring to life in this world, ”he said.

Studies have shown that the pandemic elevated adverse mental health conditions for many Americans. According to Kaiser Family Foundation research, about four in 10 adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from one in 10 at the start of 2019. A JAMA network study reports that one in four young people worldwide have clinically elevated symptoms of depression.

The idea that having mental health issues could be a logical response to trauma is easier to understand for many after a global pandemic. Leon has said in some ways that peers – people with lived experience of mental illness and recovery – had an advantage when COVID-19 hit and everyone was suddenly isolated.

“They have to face something within themselves that is difficult to face, difficult to face and which makes them ‘other’ in some ways,” he said. “And having to go through that is transformative. It forces people to grow up and be more aware of what they need and who they are in the world.

What can we learn from people who are experienced in dealing with difficult mental health issues?

To explore this question, first, we learn about the peer-managed organization Painted Brain and how their founders were able to learn from their diagnoses. Next, we delve deeper into peer support and the importance of building community, especially among people with mental health issues who often feel lonely. Next, we get some tips on how to stay resilient under tough circumstances. We then provide information and resources on patient rights, if you or a loved one suffers from a serious mental illness. And finally, we ask the artists of the Painted Brain community to tell us what inspired the work that appears in these articles.

Mental illness as a superpower

The comic book “Anti-Depressers Assimilate” is a parody of the Avengers by Lawrence Rozner, who was a member of the first art group that evolved into Painted Brain, a peer-run mental health nonprofit.

(Lawrence Rozner)

There is a force hidden in every mental illness, Leon said. He and his Painted Brain co-founders Rayshell Chambers and David “Eli” Israelian run a peer-run nonprofit that empowers people living with mental health issues. Read the story >>

What is peer support?

Black and white sketch of a group of people sitting on chairs in a circle

Illustration of Amer Azad, one of the original members of the art group that evolved into Painted Brain, a nonprofit mental health organization.

(Amer Azad)

Painted Brain started out because Leon was looking for a place where his patients with severe mental illnesses, who usually feel like they don’t fit in anywhere, could find their loved ones. Peer support has always been volunteer work, but it is now professionalized and valued as an integral part of recovery. Read the story >>

How to be resilient

Illustration of a Brain Working on a Laptop Computer and a Nose Hanging from a Rope

A “Mission Impossible” parody of Painted Brain cartoon characters, where the brain is on its computer with headphones on, while the nose is suspended from a wire that attempts to insert a USB drive into a computer port.

(Lawrence Rozner)

People who work in peer support need to build a solid foundation so that they can stay healthy while helping others overcome trauma. Here’s what anyone with stressful jobs can learn from their resilience training. Read the story >>

Understanding patients’ rights

A black and white drawing of a bird sprinting on treadmill rollers in a cage

Lawrence Rozner proposed this illustration of a chicken running on a conveyor belt in one of the early Painted Brain art groups.

(Lawrence Rozner)

As a peer-run organization, Painted Brain advocates for patient autonomy and the right to determine their own mental health treatment. Here’s the truth about how involuntary detention works, how to protect yourself, and where to get this template to start your advance psychiatric directive. Read the story >>

Painted Brain Art

Watercolor painting of a girl in nature next to a dirt boat lined with leafless trees, under blue and purple clouds

Cia Atkins, group leader at Painted Brain, a peer-run mental health nonprofit, used ink and watercolors to illustrate the uncertainty in our ecosystem; the time passed and forgotten; and what’s next.

(Cia Atkins)

This peer-reviewed selection of artwork from the Painted Brain community includes the first Painted Brain logo and magazine cover, as well as the Lawrence Rozner comic book explaining the inspiration behind his Anti-Depressers superhero characters. . See art >>

Suicide prevention and crisis counseling resources

If you or someone you know is suffering from thoughts of suicide, seek professional help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Text “HOME” to 741741 in the United States and Canada to reach the Crisis text line.


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