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OnTrackNY Teams Get Creative in Response to COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many lives and routines. We are deeply impressed with the way our OnTrackNY teams have rapidly changed the way they work to continue partnering with young people and families during these times. All of our teams have begun offering remote visits—by phone, videoconference, or both. OnTrackNY participants, families, and teams are getting creative about how to continue their work together while meeting virtually, whether it’s learning new technology, taking a “virtual walk” together, developing strategies to support distance learning for those in school, or developing ideas for staying physically active while staying home (online yoga, any-one?). Some OnTrackNY teams are offering groups for participants and family members via secure videoconference and more are in the plan-ning stages. A supported education and employment specialist at one team has created a blog that is popular with participants. Peer special-ists are working with participants on adapting their strategies for coping and connecting during the current crisis. One team created wellness packets for their participants. And teams, participants, and families are making great use of the online resources and videos that are available through Pat Deegan’s recovery library (which is available to all On-TrackNY team members, participants and families for free).

OnTrackNY April 2020 Quarterly Newsletter

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We are excited to share with you our quarterly April newsletter. This newsletter includes an update on how OnTrackNY teams are adapting to COVID-19, an introduction to one of our new OnTrackNY teams, plans for our new statewide leadership council, and 1- tips for mindful management during quarantine.

Click on the title of this post for a downloadable version of the newsletter

Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

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January 14th: This is too hard. How do people do this? I don’t know if I can go on. Why’d I even make this my goal?


For a lot of people, New Year’s comes with desires to reinvent oneself to become a step closer to the perfect person they see in their mind’s eye. Those changes can be physical, mental, and everything in between. Creating goals for yourself can be an exciting process with fulfilling results, but it can also be easier said than done. We’ve found some tips to help make that resolution even more attainable:


Setting our goals: Firstly, there are some reflective questions we may want to ask ourselves. Things like: “Why am I making this my goal? Will I be happy with the results? Do I need to do this right now? Is this possible for me to do in my current state?” can be very insightful questions. Answering these can help us gauge our determination, enthusiasm, and likelihood of success. You may need several smaller goals to reach your main goal. If you were looking to finally finish that book you’ve been working on, having a chapter finished in a month can sound a lot less daunting. There’s no shame in taking smaller steps to make a bigger leap. But how do we know what steps to take?


We need a plan: To help manage our new ambitions, we should have an established course of action to rely on. Making sure we’re prepared to take on the task is key to our success. Creating schedules and tracking your progress can turn a broad objective into a realized process and form new brain paths for you to begin following instinctively. Developing a new routine is an easier way to complete your goals.


Reward yourself: You’ve done well. Following your schedule, committing to your objective and yourself. Treat yourself. Whether it be some time away from your goal upkeep or an alternative form of happiness, you deserve recognition and commendation. You’re doing great!


Don’t beat yourself up: So maybe you slipped up today. You missed the schedule. You might have even momentarily abandoned your resolve. Things happen and circumstances change quite often in our lives outside of our control. The best thing we can do is pick back up and try again.


Stick to it: Human beings are creatures of great resiliency. Studies say that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. Every time we reach our goals for the day is a step closer to dominating the task. Don't quit!!

From OnTrackNY Participant to Peer Specialist

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Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: Hi my name is Drew. I am a peer specialist here at OnTrackNY at the Jewish Board. My role is to share my story with others and offer support in whatever way they need it. I can work out in the field, and I also have groups here at the Jewish Board. I share what my own journey was like and offer insight. I am a bit of a unique case because I was actually a participant at OnTrackNY, and then became a peer specialist after I graduated the program.

Q: So, you used to be a participant in OnTrackNY, and now you are a peer specialist. What has that transition been like?

A: It’s been great. The fact that I get to sit in on meetings, and hear what psychiatrists and other team members have to say is so amazing to me. It’s great that they listen to me just based off my lived experience. It’s different than what I expected, I didn’t think I’d have such a voice on the team.

Q: Why do you feel the role of the peer specialist is so important?

A: Because someone who has actually gone through what [the participants] are going through is something they’ve never had before. Having someone there with the perspective of what you’re going through is very different, and important.

Q: What inspired you to become a peer specialist?

A: I didn’t know where my life was going. All I knew was I had psychosis. I was working as a security guard and I hated it. So, I spoke with Noah, who had been my peer specialist when I was at OnTrackNY, and he suggested I look into being a peer specialist myself. You can become a peer specialist in many different ways, and the role can vary depending on where you are. I personally did a program called Howie the Harp. It was a 6 month program, that met every day. I learned so many things, like motivational interviewing strategies….just so many things.

Q: You recently filmed with us for an upcoming OnTrackNY video, what was that experience like?

A: I liked it. You guys were very comforting. It was an open space where I could share my story. I did the film because I want to inspire people by sharing my story.

Stay tuned for our upcoming OnTrackNY recovery videos, one of which will feature Drew as he tells his full story about his experience with psychosis, his time as a participant at OnTrackNY, and where he is now!

The Peer Specialist Role Explained

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Below, our Recovery Specialist and Trainer, Abbe Duke, speaks more about the peer specialist role on an OnTrackNY team:

The Peer Specialist role on an OnTrackNY team is held by someone who has first-hand experience of living with the label of a mental health diagnosis and has actively engaged in their own process of recovery. Peer specialists were added to the OnTrackNY model after its launch, though individuals with lived experience have been involved in the development and training since its inception. OnTrackNY peer specialists work outside of clinical practice, partnering with participants, family members, and their team members to support and enhance their understandings of wellness and self-development. Peer Specialists on OnTrackNY teams go through the NYS peer specialist certification process, as well as an individualized orientation to OnTrackNY as a whole, and the specifics of their role within the team. They are also supported through a myriad of online trainings, collaborative discussions, and shared learning with other OnTrackNY peer specialists statewide.
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