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Editorial cartoonist draws attention to mental illness during Conference

On Oct. 11, more than 260 SERV Behavioral Health System consumers from 10 New Jersey counties participated in the 12th Annual Recovery NJ Conference, where they were able to not only enjoy the camaraderie of fellow consumers, but also attend fun and educational workshops geared toward their recovery needs.

Sponsored by SERV free-of-charge for all of our residents and day program consumers, the daylong health-and-wellness event began with a continental breakfast and featured 10 Recovery & Wellness workshops led by SERV staff members as well as outside volunteers. Some consumers' family members also came out to the event to network with other families.

All 420+ people in attendance at The Pines Manor in Edison enjoyed a sit-down luncheon prior to the keynote address and received a goody bag with a black fleece neck scarf embroidered with the SERV logo.

The topics of the workshops presented at the conference were selected earlier in the year by consumers who were planning to attend. They requested to repeat seven popular workshops from previous years and to add three new workshops, which were "Yoga and Relaxation," "How to Cope with Loss and Loneliness" and "Music and Dance." The other workshops were "Nutrition/Better Food Choices," "Money Matters," "Living Well Through the Years (for ages 50+)," "Look Good/Feel Great," "Hobbies," "Social Skills and Relationships" and "Medication and Recovery."

Scott Nychay speaks 3Keynote speaker Scott Nychay talks about his recovery from mental illness while drawing illustrtions for the overhead screen.
This year's keynote speaker was Scott Nychay, who traveled from Chicago to present his message of recovery from mental illness. A former award-winning editorial cartoonist, Mr. Nychay was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He spoke to the audience about his life of ups and downs, while illustrating these moments through drawings from an iPad to overhead video screen.

"I thought the speaker was great," said one attendee. "I bought his book! His story made me realize how someone with such challenges as he had/has, can, with great support, turn his life around. He made me feel grateful for many things in my life."

Currently, Mr. Nychay has his own studio and speaks with organizations about using art to manage co-occurring disorders. His clients have included the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; National Coalition for the Homeless, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Suicide Awareness Voices of Education; and Microsoft.

Mr. Nychay attended Drake University, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and received his B.A. degree from Columbia College.

His work has appeared on CBS, NBC and in USA Today. He is the recipient of more than 20 honors, including first in the nation from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the John Fischetti Finalist Award.

After his keynote address, Mr. Nychay was available in the lobby to sign copies of his first graphic novel, "Drawing Strength."

The annual Recovery NJ Conference could not have been as successful without the support and participation of our sponsors, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and ExactCare Pharmacy; the staff members and volunteers who offered their expertise to lead the workshops; workshop monitors and registration staff; and finally the committee members from all regions who worked for months planning and executing the event.

SERV psychiatrist receives NJ Psychiatric Association’s highest honor

Dr. Nancy T. Block, a psychiatrist at SERV Centers of N.J.'s Clifton Behavioral Healthcare, recently received the New Jersey Psychiatric Association's highest honor, the 2014 Platinum Award.

Dr. Block received the award at NJPA's "Program for Excellence," held Nov. 16 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin. The presentation was made by Dr. Margaret Tompsett.

The following tribute to Dr. Block is taken from the program journal:

"This year's Platinum Award is being given to Nancy T. Block, MD, DLFAPA for her contributions to psychiatry and the wider community.

Great grandniece of one of the first woman physicians, she grew up in a missionary family, and has continued throughout her life to live up to their ideals of service to humanity.

After graduating Alpha Omega Alpha from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1957, she served as a medical missionary in south India for two years. On her return she worked as a physician for the women's prison and child care centers. Her medical approach always appreciated the whole patient in his or her family and social context, rather than just his or her disease. This biopsychosocial orientation inspired her in 1969 to train as a psychiatrist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark.

After completing psychiatric training in 1973 she continued at UMDNJ, initially as Director of Children's Psychiatric Outpatient Services, and later as an attending psychiatrist working with many of the sickest patients needing long-term care. As an assistant professor and, since 1980 a clinical associate professor, she taught many generations of medical students, psychiatry residents, psychology interns and ancillary professional staff.

Dr. Block has been a member of the American Psychiatric Association since 1973, is a Distinguished Life Fellow and has served (the NJPA) district branch in many capacities, up to the office of President in 2002-2003. One of her greatest achievements was to organize the "Brian Behavior" exhibit at the Liberty Science Center in 1997-2000. This was a massive undertaking and involved hours of work and the organization of numerous volunteers. She and colleagues on the Public Education Committee worked to influence the health curriculum of public schools. She also served on Governor Richard Codey's Work Group on Post-Partum Depression. While president of NJPA, Dr Block appointed a task force to obtain information on the "Mental Health Needs and Services in New Jersey" and worked with her colleagues to produce a comprehensive report.

After closing her private practice, she has been working at SERV in the Clifton clinic serving disadvantaged people, insisting on spending sufficient time with patients to give quality care. She has continued to teach at UMDNJ in Newark, to write for the New Jersey Psychiatrist and to work with NAMI to give teachers better understanding of the needs of mentally ill children in the schools.

She has been a strong advocate for our patients and our profession, going to Trenton and meeting with legislators to educate them about the needs of the mentally ill. At an age when many are fully retired, she has continued to work for our patients and our profession as well as for the wider community. She has been working with Physicians for a National Health Program for a single payer health care system, so that all Americans can access the healthcare they need. At Council meetings, she is respected for the knowledge, wisdom and experience she brings to the table.

At the same time she has been a devoted wife to Russ, ... sharing his work for the housing needs of the people of Elizabeth. Her three children, their spouses and her 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren are all important to her and recently she took two grandchildren on the Walk for the Mental Health Association of New Jersey.

In her balance of life, career and family and her consistent caring for others in the wider community, she is an inspiration to us all."

2014 Scholarship Fund Cash Raffle Winners Announced

On November 17, there were three winners in the SERV Foundation Scholarship Fund Cash Raffle drawing. The winners received 25%, 15% and 10% of the total raised, which was $11,780.

They were:

1st prize – Cynthia Rea-Bello, of Clifton, NJ, $2,954 (25%)

2nd prize – Frank Hauch, of Manville, NJ, $1,767 (15%)

3rd prize – Marilyn Ticktin, of Roosevelt, NJ, $1,178 (10%)

Thank you to all who supported this fundraiser, which benefits SERV consumers wishing to pursue their educational goals.

The SERV Foundation

SERV M.D. presents ‘Psychiatrist’s Perspective on the Recovery Model’

Dr. Linda Gochfeld, Medical Director at SERV, recently presented a workshop at the 8th Annual Conference of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance-New Jersey. The conference, which took place Aug. 16 at Kean University, was titled "Surviving to Thriving."

Dr. Gochfeld presented "A Psychiatrist's Perspective on the Recovery Model," in which she spoke about her experience as a psychiatrist and how the Recovery model has changed practice over the years.

In her workshop, according to an article by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA), Dr. Gochfeld "emphasized that the recovery model focuses on respect for the individuals and working towards their ability to lead meaningful lives in their communities, and that this is achieved by addressing all biological, psychological, social and vocational needs."

To read NJAMHAA's full article, click here.