Connecting with KYC
“The best cure for a problem is to do something about it,” Mike says, “take action, one step at a time.” Mike shares that his mother’s passing was very difficult, as he and his mother had been caregivers for one another at different times in their lives. He began having catastrophic thoughts following her loss. When he realized that his emotional health was affecting his ability to carry out his role in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he knew it was time to act. A neighbor recommended to him to check out KYC, and he followed up on that suggestion.
“There are opportunities to see that you’re not the only one struggling,” Mike says. Mike knows that many people face mental health challenges throughout their lives, and they can be quite common. So, he talks about mental health openly and honestly. Mike is a Division Member Training Staff Officer with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the uniformed volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard. He enjoys his role in building and engaging his team not only to help provide skills training, but also to support his team members as individuals. This is what he says builds team coordination. During a recent program visit in which he shared water safety information with KYC, he talked about his role in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and shared his own experience with mental health challenges.
Building Skills and Giving Back
Mike has been a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for the last 20 years. He is passionate about boater and water safety, and feels privileged to be a part of the Auxiliary. Originally from Canada, Mike grew up admiring his father’s accomplishments in the Royal Canadian Navy, and knew he wanted to be part of an organization that protected the safety of others. Mike says he’s able to keep achieving his goals thanks to the support he has received at Kenneth Young Center.
Mike is also part of KYC’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation Group, known as PSR. “It’s like a little family,” he said, “you meet other people, socialize, find long-term friends.” Mike shares that he enjoys the facilitated group discussions, which are often directed by fellow group members. Discussion topics range from historical events to holiday celebrations. He has also learned critical skills and tools that he uses to help cope with stressful situations. He feels that through PSR, “you learn to help yourself,” using mindfulness and other emotional management techniques. He says that “KYC gives you the tools and confidence you need to learn things, and find alternate ways to deal with things, to help you turn things around.”
Kenneth Young Center has also helped him in other areas of his life and health. He has learned more about nutrition and healthy eating habits, and credits KYC with learning to “not give food power,” as he puts it. He has seen his physical health improve along with his mental wellness. He was also connected to additional resources thanks to the help of his Counselors. His first Counselor at KYC went above her typical duties to help break down some of the barriers that Mike faced when seeking support. She helped him navigate the process to become a U.S. citizen, which has continued to open doors for him to connect with helpful resources.
Accomplishing and Setting New Goals
Mike sees many parallels between what he learns at KYC and the strategies that the Coast Guard Auxiliary uses to train its new members. “In the Coast Guard Auxiliary, you train and qualify before you take action,” he said, and he views KYC as a training ground for how to live a healthier, happier life. In the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he, along with others, is part of an effective team, communicates clearly, and protects and educates others. He sees the same things happening in group socialization activities in every PSR group meeting.
Mike has been inspired by those who have helped him and is currently building the credentials to become a peer recovery counselor. He feels that his experience with training Coast Guard Auxiliary members will prepare him to help others as they journey towards mental wellness, and his experience with mental health also aids in his experience with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. KYC is proud to support every client in each of their accomplishments, and wishes Mike continued success as he achieves his goals.
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