Tag Archives: Mental Health

FSA Awards Michael and Caroline Cusamano With the Mary Alice O’Connor Vision Award

In early October the Family Service Agency awarded Michael and Caroline Cusumano in their 2017 Vision Awards ceremony. During the night, the FSA honored the Mary Alice O’Connor 2015 Vision Award Recipients and celebrated the emotional support, psychological, and social well-being of Burbank’s youth.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The Family Service Agency was founded in 1953 by a Burbank Unified School District School Psychologist and a group of community leaders. Currently, the FSA operates in 20 school campuses, including 19 BUSD schools and one private school.

The agency specializes in therapy, but also offers individual youth and adult therapy sessions, couples therapy, and family therapy. The agency also maintains a Veteran’s Group, a Depression and Anxiety Group, a Battered Women’s Survivor Group, and a Teen/Parent Substance Abuse group.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The agency also offers comprehensive free services for foster, homeless, and high-risk youth and their families. This includes a 24-hour comprehensive support program aimed at servicing adult and child survivors of domestic abuse. 99% of their staff holds 4-year degrees, with 92% holding advanced degrees, and 96% providing direct client care.

FSA currently operates 3 long-term transitional shelters for battered women and children, homeless families, and emancipated youth and young adults respectively. Their estimated value of care stands at $4.9 million dollars (2015-2016 fiscal year), regardless of their actual budget being $1.4 million dollars. The FSA has also served 4,794 clients.

After the ceremony, I had a chance to speak with Michael Cusmano about the award and the Family Service Agency.


Interview with Michael Cusmano

After the event, I had a chance to speak to Michael Cusmano about the award and what the public can do to help.

First off, congratulations to you and Caroline on your award. Obviously, the work put into maintaining emotional, psychological, and social well-being support never ends. Having impacted so many lives up until this point, what can you and Caroline say about what this award means to the both of you? 

This recognition is especially meaningful to us because it is in honor of Mary Alice O’Connor, and she was such inspirational leader for so many people here in Burbank. It is an honor to caring on her legacy.

How can citizens of Burbank, previously unaware of the FSA, help the FSA in pursuit of their mission in helping our citizens? 

The most direct way that people can help FSA execute their mission is by making donations directly to the organization; they are a 501c3 non-profit and all gifts are 100% tax deductible.

What inspired you and Caroline to start helping? And what continues to inspire the both of you? 

Caroline and I have been involved in charitable and community work for decades, and we were initially inspired by the community work and commitment that my parents and grandmother demonstrated as we were growing up;  After that, it’s the impact of the work that continues to inspire us. When you see how your participation in the community can make a difference, change lives, it inspires to do more, and more.

Proceeds from the event went to FSA’s Burbank School-Based Counseling Program and FSA’s Residential Youth Counseling Program.

Click on any picture to see a larger view:

 

JBHS Counselors Work On Coping Strategies And Emotional Wellness With Ninth Graders

John Burroughs High School guidance counselors visited ninth grade Health classes at the school recently to discuss emotional wellness and strategies for dealing with frustrations, fear, nervousness and stress in daily life.

JBHS counselors first led classroom discussions, during which several students spoke up and shared personal examples of vulnerable moments or times when they have been stressed, unhappy or angry. Counselors then took the students outside for some physical demonstrations of coping strategies and then returned to the classroom to recap the lesson.

During the first part of the discussion, counselors Robert Feiner, Sheila Masters, Les Cohen, Hung Truong, Jodi Levy and Jennifer Sohn Lim led a large group discussion on stress reduction tactics.

John Burroughs High School counselors meet with ninth graders to discuss coping strategies and emotional wellness. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

John Burroughs High School counselors meet with ninth graders to discuss coping strategies and emotional wellness. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

They talked about the physical things that happen when people get stressed, including headaches, stiffness and tension, inability to sleep, profuse sweating, sleeping too much, inability to think straight or lack of focus, loss of appetite and high blood pressure.

“Sleep is necessary physically and when you don’t get enough it can affect physical and psychological health,” emphasized Cohen.

The JBHS counselors then discussed some tactics to deal with physical feelings and reactions including focused breathing, distraction, physical activity and playing a musical instrument or singing.

The class broke into smaller groups and went outside to discuss ways to manage stress including positive self talk, reframing, mindfulness, focus on breathing and yoga.

“Getting outside and physical helps with memory,” explained Masters, who worked with her group on breathing and focus, demonstrating simple inhaling with lifting arms and exhaling and lowering arms. Students also tried the calming yoga tree pose.

JBHS counselors Rob Feiner and Sheila Masters demonstrate a yoga tree pose. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS counselors Rob Feiner and Sheila Masters demonstrate a yoga tree pose. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“If enough stressful events come along that you don’t deal with, you can become depressed, explode or have physical stress,” said Cohen. He also worked on mindful breathing with his group.

Groups also did a “Shake It Off” physical activity, during which everyone shook a single body part – hand, foot, leg, arm – in a rhythmic pattern, counting backwards from 10 for each body part.

By the end of the “Shake It Off” exercise, students were laughing and appeared more relaxed.

One student said she felt “energized and awesome.”

The exercise relaxes the body, while giving it a boost of energy, explained Lim. It helps a person calm down so it’s easier to focus. When someone is focused on counting backwards while doing a simple movement, that person is not thinking of other things, other stressors in life.

“It might be a good activity for teachers to use before a big test, to get rid of anxiety, ” said Matt Chambers, Assistance Principal of Guidance at Burroughs.

JHBS Assistant Principal Matt Chambers tries out the "Shake It Off" exercise. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS Assistant Principal Matt Chambers tries out the “Shake It Off” exercise. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

During the recap of the lesson, the JBHS counselors emphasized that “self talk” generally consumes much of day for people and learning how to manage that is important. They also asked the students which of the different coping strategies they liked best and when they would use them.

“The lesson is just a small piece of the Guidance Master Plan,'” explained Chambers. “There’s so much more counselors do besides planning for college.”

“Much of their day is spent supporting students who are having a tough day,” he added. “I see these people doing a great job supporting our students each day. They’re unsung heroes of the campus.”

JBHS counselors Les Cohen and Hung Truong lead students in "Shake It Off." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS counselors Les Cohen and Hung Truong lead students in “Shake It Off.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs High School recently added an additional counselor through LCAP funds, bringing the total number of counselors at the school to six. Each counselor works with approximately 460 students in grades 9 – 12 annually. One counselor has less of a caseload as she works specifically with at risk students who require more intense help.

“A lot of the time, when kids have their first meeting with the counselors is when they’re having a crummy day or a death in the family,” said Chambers. “The goal here is to establish that relationship with the counselor before the student has a serious need.”

Burbank Unified’s Guidance Plan aims for grade level guidance counseling lessons to begin in sixth grade at all middle schools, to build a foundation of support students and parents can recognize.

JBHS counselor Jennifer Song Lim leads her group in the stress-reduction exercise "Shake It Off."  Assistant Principal Matt Chambers participates. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

JBHS counselor Jennifer Song Lim leads her group in the stress-reduction exercise “Shake It Off.” Assistant Principal Matt Chambers participates. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The guidance counselors at the high schools cover a variety of areas to help support and prepare students for life during and after high school. The guidance team’s goal is to meet at least once yearly with every student at the school.

“Coping Strategies and Emotional Wellness” is the focus of ninth grade, while tenth-graders and their parents meet with counselors to discuss college and graduation requirements. Eleventh-graders get a program on “Communication and 21st Century Job Skills” while those in twelfth grade meet with counselors to discuss careers.

JBHS counselors are also trying to connect with students and parents via Twitter, with the account @JBHSGuidance, also found online at https://twitter.com/jbhsguidance.

Burbank Police Receive Award for Mental Health Team

Members of the Burbank Police Department Mental Health Evaluation Team and Command Officers were present at the annual Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County (POALAC) Awards Dinner.

Burbank Police Officers L/R Officer Adam Adler, Officer Kristiana Sanchez and Sgt. Mike Parrinello. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Police Officers L/R Officer Adam Adler, Officer Kristiana Sanchez and Sgt. Mike Parrinello. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The POALAC 2013 Centurion Award was presented to Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team For Outstanding Mental Health Partnership involving Burbank Police Department / Los Angeles Department of Mental Health.

The partnership addresses the mental health issues of those that are affecting quality of life issues for our citizens. In addition, the team works closley with numerous groups within our city to obtain much needed resources for the affected individuals.

Pictured L/RDr. Marvin Southard –Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Svitlana Anishchenko-Mental Health Clinical Supervisor –PMRT Service Area IITony Beliz –Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Emergency Outreach Bureau (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Pictured L/RDr. Marvin Southard –Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Svitlana Anishchenko-Mental Health Clinical Supervisor –PMRT Service Area II, Tony Beliz –Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Emergency Outreach Bureau (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The POALAC Award Presentation on March 21 went to the Burbank Police Department for the following:

 

OUTSTANDING MENTAL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP

Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team

Burbank Police Department

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

The Burbank Police Department (BPD) entered into 2012 facing a daunting 153 percent increase in service calls involving mental health underpinnings. BPD aligned with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) and created a co-response police/mental health clinician model (Burbank Mental Evaluation Team) to effectively intervene and manage these extraordinary requests for service. Resultant from the implementation of this co-response model, the BPD realized significant benefits to this contemporary model. Specifically, the many chronic offenders who have burdened various public and social services have been the focal point of a strategic intervention plan that included the pursuit of sustained care in lieu of transitory care. With effective collaboration with the City Attorney, DMH, patient families, and a preemptive intervention approach to managing these high-risk interventions, the results have exceeded the Department and community’s expectation.

BPD Mental Health Award -1The award was presented to:

Capt. Mike Albanese

Sgt. Mike Parrinello

Officer Scott Moody (not present)

Officer Adam Adler

Officer Kristiana Sanchez

Psychiatric Social Worker Svitlana Anishchenko

 

The Burbank Police Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has joined together in a cooperative effort to provide the city of Burbank and the community we serve, a mental health team to address the growing needs of those suffering from mental illness and homelessness. Our two agencies developed the Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team, known as BMHET.

Dr. Marvin Southard –Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Svitlana Anishchenko- Mental Health Clinical Supervisor –PMRT Service Area II Officer Officer Kristiana Sanchez and Officer Adam Adler. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Dr. Marvin Southard –Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Svitlana Anishchenko- Mental Health Clinical Supervisor –PMRT Service Area II Officer
Officer Kristiana Sanchez and Officer Adam Adler. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

BMHET is comprised of police officers from the Burbank Police Department and a licensed Department of Mental Health clinician. BMHET responds to calls for services or other police contacts that have mental health underpinnings. BMHET is utilized to evaluate subjects who appear to have mental health disorders.

Once on scene BMHET determines if further mental health treatment is required. They then utilize the numerous resources that Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health can access, as well as apply for holds, per 5150/5585 WIC.

BMHET also conducts case management with those in the community. BMHET focuses their efforts on helping those that consistently require our services to alleviate patrol and other police services. BMHET also coordinates with the Investigations Division to assist in proper prosecution through the mental health system and criminal courts system.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)