AMHC News

Library hosts art created by people suffering brain injuries

Staff from the Center for Integrated Neuro Rehabilitation in Caribou stand in front of a display at the Caribou Public Library showcasing artwork created by clients for Brain Injury Awareness Week. Those pictured here, from left, are Pamela Searles, Keely LeBlanc, David LeTourneau, Betty Hendrickson, and Kevin Huston.

For over a decade, people in The County suffering from brain injuries have turned their experiences into art as part of the Center for Integrated Neuro Rehabilitation (CINR) program based in Caribou. Now, that art is on display at the Caribou Public Library for the entire month.

Pam Searles, a clinical consultant with CINR, said this is the first time the facility has ever showcased their clients art via a public display.

Keely LeBlanc, a CINR brain injury support specialist, said she often uses art as a medium through which her clients can both express themselves and re-develop skills that may have been lost due to a neurological condition.

“They did such a great job,” said LeBlanc,” that Pam suggested we contact the library and see if they would like to hold a display.”

Caribou Public Library Director Hope Shafer said she and the library staff were “thrilled” and “excited” to bring awareness to the public about both the center and people in the area dealing with brain injuries.

“We hope to bring awareness by having this group showcase the incredible art their clients have done,” she said, “and to help others recognize why this artwork is so incredible.”

Searles said CINR, which is part of the Aroostook Mental Health Center (AMHC), primarily focuses on helping those with trauma or an acquired brain injury to get back into and functioning in society. That goal is accomplished through many outlets, such as art, she said.

“Art helps them manage their emotions,” said Kevin Huston, a rehabilitation technician at CINR, “and to express things that otherwise can’t be expressed. Some of our people have aphasia, or the inability to use words, so it’s a useful outlet. If a right-handed person has a stroke and loses the ability to use that side of their body, they really have to concentrate on things like drawing and using their motor skills.”

LeBlanc said she hopes the exhibit will help members of the community learn more about the experiences of people with brain injuries.

“I hope people will know that those with a brain injury can do the same things others can,” she said. She wants folks “to look at them as a human being, and know that while sometimes they may look OK, you may not be able to tell visually that something has happened to them. Often times people don’t take into account that there are things below the surface.”

Huston said this is one of the primary misconceptions about brain injuries, adding that it “is not always evident,” and that people with brain injuries sometimes exhibit different characteristics.

The art pieces themselves were drawn as part of the program’s efforts to improve motor function, the following of directions, and problem solving. For one project, clients had to draw straight lines and follow a pattern, while another involved placing beans over a tracing of an image.

LeBlanc said that some aspects that go beyond the directions, such as which colors to choose, can be overwhelming to certain patients and may cause them to stop. Other clients, however, began with specific patterns in mind and ended up becoming so absorbed in the project that the end result did not resemble their original intention.

“For some people,” LeBlanc said, “it can be hard to plan out. It can be overwhelming.”

David LeTourneau, a CINR brain injury specialist, said the organization’s specific mission is to work with people so they can become “as independent as they can possibly be.”

“We want to help people acquire the skills needed to obtain their own apartment,” he said, “or to do their own grocery shopping.”

CINF is CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited, and while it specializes in brain injury rehabilitation, staffers also are able to help clients get in touch with other mental health professionals working under AMHC.

Jamie Owens, director of marketing and development at AMHC, said the organization has been providing services to people in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties since 1970. AMHC now serves about 6,000 clients annually.

Searles said that if a client comes in with issues related to mental health counseling or substance abuse, CINR staff will make referrals to the appropriate organization.

“We all collaborate together,” she said, “to help support our clients’ needs.”

While the library exhibit had only been up a few days, Shafer said she’s already heard a great deal of positive feedback from patrons.

“Most are drawn immediately because of the artwork,” she said, “and will say that they need to bring their mom or relative back so they can see it. The display brings out a lot of stories from people with family members who have had injuries, and I’ve heard people say they wish this had been available for their uncle, aunt, cousin, sister, or friend. We are blessed to have this available in Aroostook County.”

Source: https://thecounty.me/2019/03/14/living/arts/library-hosts-art-created-by-people-suffering-brain-injuries/

Social Work Month 2019

Aren’t you glad there are social workers in the world? What would the world be like without them?

Social Work Month is in March and this year’s theme is ELEVATE SOCIAL WORK.

Each day, nearly 700,000 social workers nationwide work to elevate and empower others, giving them the ability to solve life’s problems, cope with personal roadblocks and get the services they need. Social workers are needed now more than ever as the nation grapples with serious issues such as income equality, preventing suicide, ensuring access to good health care for all, as well as addressing the growing opioid addiction now gripping the nation.

You may not realize it, but social workers are everywhere—and they work across AMHC in most all of our service locations. For generations, social workers have worked tirelessly to improve our wider society and make our nation a better place to live. For example, they work in mental health facilities and clinics and hospitals helping place people on the path to recovery from sickness and mental illness. They support our brave military personnel, veterans and their families. They are in schools, helping students overcome issues that prevent them from getting a good education, and they protect children who have been abused or neglected. They also help children find new families through adoption.

International Women’s Day

March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day.  In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, the fight for equality was very real – equal pay and women’s right to vote.  AMHC is lucky to employ extremely talented and exceptional women who work diligently each day to provide excellent service to each other and our community.

Today, Central Office staff celebrated women empowerment, and success within our agency and our lives.  We wear purple to support International Women’s Day, including the women we are all fortunate to have in our lives each and every day.

National Sleep Awareness Week (March 10-16)

Join AMHC and the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week, March 10 to 16, 2019. This year’s theme “Begin with Sleep” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals. To calculate how much sleep you need to be the best you can be and articles about good sleep health, sleep problems, and how each affects your lifestyle, visit https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/bedtime-calculatortm.

National Nutrition Month® 2019

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

During National Nutrition Month®, help the Academy achieve its vision of a world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.

Key Messages:

  1. Discover the benefits of a healthy eating style.
  2. Choose foods and drinks that are good for your health.
  3. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  4. Select healthier options when eating away from home.
  5. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  6. Keep it simple. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.
  7. Make food safety part of your everyday routine.
  8. Help to reduce food waste by considering the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  9. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  10. Consult the nutrition experts. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

AMHC Welcomes New CFAO

AMHC is pleased to welcome Christy Daggett, MPP, as AMHC’s new Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. As the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, she is responsible for providing leadership for the financial and administrative systems of the organization. Prior to joining AMHC, she has worked in public service in Maine for close to a decade, holding program-oriented and leadership roles at MCD Public Health, the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and the Aroostook County Action Program. She has served as Board President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Maine Affiliate, President of the Aroostook Training and Education Coalition (ATEC), and Board Member of the Maine Children’s Alliance. A native of Presque Isle, Christy earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and her master’s in Public Policy and Management from the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. She has testified as an expert on rural public policy issues before the Maine Legislature, and her pieces have been published in many statewide and national forums, including health policy research on Medicaid expansion, health care price transparency, cancer screening access for rural Mainers, and the correlation between school-based health clinics and better graduation and attendance outcomes for K-12 students.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness) is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading a message of hope, and putting life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and will affect 30 million Americans at some point in their lives, but myths and misinformation still keep people from getting the help they need. Eating disorders are serious conditions that can have a profound mental and physical impact, including death. This should not discourage anyone struggling—recovery is real, and treatment is available. Statistics on mortality and eating disorders underscore the impact of these disorders and the importance of treatment.

The NEDA Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET. Contact the Helpline for support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one.

You may reach the NEDA helpline by calling (800) 931-2237.

Helpline volunteers are trained to help you find the information and support you are looking for. Reach out today!

World Cancer Day – February 4, 2019

Monday, February 4th is World Cancer Day, when organizations and people around the world unite to raise awareness about cancer and work to make it a global health priority. An estimated 9.5 million people worldwide were expected to die from cancer in 2018 – about 26,000 cancer deaths a day – and that number is predicted to grow.

How people can help themselves:

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices that include avoiding using tobacco products, getting plenty of physical activity, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and staying safe in the sun.
  • Know about the signs and symptoms of cancer and early detection guidelines because finding cancer early often makes it easier to treat.
  • Share stories about their own cancer experiences, communicate with decision-makers and join support groups to help make positive change for all people affected by cancer.
  • When possible, use work and other daily activities during and after cancer treatment as opportunities to maintain normality, routine, stability, social contact, and income.

How people can help others:

  • Support cancer patients and survivors with the physical and emotional impacts of cancer even after treatment ends.
  • Call on government leaders to commit adequate resources to reduce cancer deaths and provide a better quality of life for patients and survivors.
  • Educate themselves and others about the link between certain lifestyle behaviors – including smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity – and cancer risk.
  • Dispel rumors and myths that lead to stigma and discrimination against people with cancer in some communities.

Encourage schools and workplaces to implement nutrition, physical activity, and no smoking policies that help people adopt healthy habits for life.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month


Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. Teen dating violence (TDV) is defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against teenaged dating partners, occurring in different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual and digital. TDV occurs across diverse groups and cultures. The National Dating Abuse Helpline provides 24-hour national web-based and telephone resources to help teens experiencing dating abuse. Young people (as well as concerned friends, parents, teachers, clergy, law enforcement, and service providers) anywhere in the country can call toll free, 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522, or log on to the interactive website, loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate, confidential assistance.

February is American Heart Month

National Wear Red Day® is Friday, February 1, 2019! — Wear red to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and save lives.

February is American Heart Month, an ideal time to remind everyone to focus on your heart health. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.9 million deaths each year.

The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices. While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.

Library hosts art created by people suffering brain injuries

For over a decade, people in The County suffering from brain injuries have turned their experiences into art as part of the …

Social Work Month 2019

Aren’t you glad there are social workers in the world? What would the world be like without them? Social Work Month is …

International Women’s Day

March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day.  In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, the fight for equality was …