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10 Question Interview with a Case Manager

1) What is your profession? And have you had any professional experience with assisting those with mental health disorders?

I am currently employed as an Eligibility Specialist for the City of New York where I have interviewed clients who have been diagnosed with PTSD from domestic violence relationships, depression, bipolar disorder. Prior to working with NYC, I was Case

Manager for Volunteers of America. As a Case Manager I worked alongside Veterans with PTSD, Substance Use disorders, Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.

2) Do you have any family members who have a mental health disorders? And what have they been diagnosed with?

Yes. I have someone close to me who is like an Aunt diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. My mother also showed signs of Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and anxiety resulting from domestic violence and sexual abuse but She was never formally diagnosed.

3) What do you wish people knew about those with mental health disorders?

The people who seem to be the “happiest” or “strongest” tend to suffer in silence due to the stigma and how they were raised. Most families from my era never talked about their problems. We were taught to keep family business to themselves. This was pre-

Oprah days. People hid whatever traumatic events happened in their lives. They were taught to “get over it”. Children then grew into adults who have developed mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Also some Mental health disorders are

hereditary. So basically mental health affects us all. Even if you are not diagnosed, someone you know or love will be.

4) What is the toughest part(s) of your job? And is there similarities with your experience as a family member?

The toughest part is trying to convince someone with depression that everything is going to be ok. A person with depression or Bipolar Disorder can’t help how they feel. They feel as if they are in a deep, dark pit. There is no amount of money, illicit drugs, fame, etc that will make a person with a mental health disorder feel better. It may provide a quick fix but will ultimately make the person feel even worse.

5) Do you think those with mental health disorders are dangerous?

The vast majority of those with mental health disorders are not a danger to anyone but themselves if they are not following their wellness plan with their Psychiatrist, Therapist, Mental Health Counselor and/or physicians. People who aren’t able to manage their symptoms are more at risk of self-harm then a danger to society. The media tends to focus on the small percentage of those people who have lashed out violently. In those cases, the person was not taking their medications and possibly self medicating with illegal drugs and decompensating.

6) What are some of the ways you’ve seen your clients and family member maintain their recovery? Medication, therapy, etc

My Aunt has a Psychiatrist and Therapist. She meets with them regularly in person and on Zoom. She also takes medications to regulate her Bipolar Disorder. When my clients were having a Mental Health Crisis, we referred them to a Respite Center which can be a better alternative than hospitalization. We also provided check-ins where the Case Manager made sure the client was seen at least twice daily by a staff member. Case Managers also met with their clients at least twice monthly to check on their progress

and ensure they are meeting their milestones. I always allowed the clients who needed more one on one time to see me as many times as they wanted. I had one client who I would meet with on average 6-8 times monthly.

7) In your experience do you see the difficulty the stigma of a mental health condition?

Yes. especially with my Veterans who were mostly men from Hispanic and African American backgrounds. It could be perceived as weakness to admit you were struggling. One of my Vietnam Veterans told me it was unheard of admitting your had issues with

your mental health. You were essentially “flagged” and it was on their permanent record. The Veterans Administration now recognizes PTSD and Depression as a significant issue among their Vets returning from combat and they now offer resources

as a result of the advocacy work by Veterans, their doctors and families.

8) What do you want people to know about your jobs?

I want people to know that my clients taught me everything. They allowed me to be a part of their world. They trusted me with their most private information and gave me a view inside their world. I was humbled by the courage they displayed each and every day. Just getting up in the morning could be an arduous task.

9) What would you want yourself to know before embarking on your professional journey?

I would want younger myself to know that its Ok not to have all the answers. Having a compassionate heart and a willingness to listen can mean the world to someone. I started my Case Manager career in my 40’s. I feel my life experiences prepared me for this career so I wouldn’t change anything about that.

10) And what would you want yourself to know before experiencing your family’s mental health disorder?

I would want myself to know that my Aunt is doing the best she can each and every day. She sometimes feels weary because she as to think about her mental health constantly. She will have good days and she will have bad days. Call and visit often but only when she is receptive.

Thank you so much for sharing with us!

For those of those who have read this article, please share with someone who might be going into the field or studying case management. And as always thank you for your time, attention, and (at any capacity) for helping to break the stigma!


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