Bringing C.A.L.M. to life has been a goal of mine since starting to treat young people in New Orleans with first-episode psychosis. I had the idea to establish Clear Answers to Louisiana Mental Health (C.A.L.M.) as a way to move towards our community acknowledging that psychosis is real and often misunderstood.
From my experience taking care of individuals in our community after their first episode of psychosis, the multiple challenges are evident. Individuals often feel marginalized and isolated, families often misunderstand the changes in their loved ones’ behavior and emotions, and the greater community seems afraid of saying the word ‘psychosis’. How can we improve the mental health of our young people, but as a community be afraid of what these individuals are experiencing?
Message from Dr. Weiss
I ask you for a moment to put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing psychosis:
You are not sure if the voices you are hearing are real, so you ask people if they can hear them too and they look at you funny. You are feeling that the people around you are out to hurt you, so you isolate yourself. You do not feel safe around people you usually trust, so you push people out of your life. You are confused because normal
everyday experiences start taking on special and peculiar meanings, so you begin to feel worried. These experiences feel real and no one understands, and you are afraid to talk about it.
People experiencing psychosis for the first time are trying to MAKE MEANING out of the experiences. They are trying to make sense of feelings and thoughts that do not make sense. They often have the feeling they are losing their mind.
IMAGINE FOR YOURSELF HOW SCARY THIS MUST BE: TO BE UNABLE TO TRUST YOUR OWN MIND. We need to help these individuals feel supported and get help early, because treatment is powerful and works to get people feeling back to their usual selves.
After launching a crowd-funding campaign and through the support of many amazing people, we are able to bring our community this resource. C.A.L.M.’s efforts will help New Orleans become:
UNAFRAID | EDUCATED | EMPOWERED, to help individuals take steps towards EARLY TREATMENT of psychosis, which has been proven to improve outcomes for individuals.
WHAT IS THE C.A.L.M. DIFFERENCE?
C.A.L.M. combines a public health, real-world approach with academic expertise to bring our community:
Cutting-edge education surrounding psychosis
The TRUTH surrounding the myths often associated with psychosis in order to reduce stigma and make psychosis easier to communicate about
Access to care and early detection through information about the Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC-NOLA)
The opportunity to help fundraising efforts for activities associated with maintenance of this project for perpetual promotion of our mission
Opportunities for of our future physicians to become educated on first-episode psychosis to facilitate their growth as patient advocates
MENTAL ILLNESSES TAKE LIVES
C.A.L.M. would like to honor Hal Singleton: son of Linda Singleton, husband and father, and step-brother to Dr. Ashley Weiss. He braved mental illness for as long as possible, ultimately taking his life. He is an everlasting inspiration for C.A.L.M. to help our community understand the significance of mental illnesses. As a community, we must support people in their struggles through empathy and advocacy, and help show paths towards treatment which are free of stigma, and full of open arms.
2/5/75 to 1/11/15