Kim Conley Mental Health Hero #MentalHealthMonth
2013 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon
Drawing by Chato Stewart
Kim has been an advocate in one capacity or another for 19 years. She began her career working as a Victim Witness Advocate for the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. In addition to assisting victims and witnesses of crime navigate through the criminal justice system, her primary work entailed assisting women who were experiencing domestic violence obtain restraining orders, find safe housing, and secure the financial resources that they needed to become independent. While she was familiar with the impact of trauma on the mental health of an individual, it became clear while doing this work that it also could have a profound effect on the family and on the community. Kim had always had an interest in family systems and how they functioned so it seemed like becoming a family therapist would be a natural fit.
Shortly before receiving her MEd, Kim gave birth to her son. Eddie was born two months early and struggled with developmental delays. She made the difficult decision to leave her career and focus on the needs of her son while struggling to complete her degree and internship at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. While caring for an infant, she conducted individual sessions and group counseling sessions for woman and their families whose lives had been impacted by sexual assault. She continued her work at the agency as a volunteer for the legal department and on the hotline for a short time, but realized that her full attention needed to be at home.
When her son began to attend school full time, Kim was able to focus on her career again and began working as a Clinical Case Coordinator for a community based program through The Guidance Center in Cambridge, MA that helps to reunify children who have been removed from their parent’s custody. Through weekly therapy sessions, and parenting work, families are reunited and linked to community resources. The program quickly evolved and began to work with the Department of Children and Families in an effort to identify youth who are at high risk for removal. A team of clinicians work in a preventative capacity with these families, stabilizing the family unit before placement becomes necessary. While Kim has moved on, amazing community based work is achieved by that team of clinicians every day and so many families have been able to remain intact.
Kim currently holds a position as a Senior Intensive Care Coordinator at The Guidance Center (now merged with Riverside Community Care). She is also the Coordinator of ICC Services and supervisors a team of ICC’s and In Home Therapy Clinicians who are providing services through the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative in Massachusetts. This is a program funded through the Mass health system and focuses on serving youth through age 21 who have “SED” and their families. Many of the families she works with have complex trauma histories, substance abuse histories, and significant Mental Health diagnosis’. The program utilizes the ten principles of Wraparound and strongly advocates for families to have a “voice and choice” in a system that has traditionally been punitive, shaming, and pathology focused. The goal is to keep families intact and prevent multiple hospitalizations and long term residential care.
Kim is honored to be recognized for her work alongside these wonderful individuals, and would like to acknowledge the dedication of so many others who are committed to making change despite the dismal pay and/or lack of recognition. However, we all know that the true Mental Health Heroes are those individual’s and their families who live with the effects of it every day and triumph despite the obstacles and setbacks. Your stories, her son’s story… inspire her every day! Cheers to you, Chato Stewart… humor is an amazing form of self –care! 😉LP 14 – Sweet Pea 11 – Precious 10 and Belly 7
Mentalympians is a mental health community development initiative to raise awareness of mental health recovery, inspire hope, reduce self-stigma, foster recovery and also connect individuals who are interested in campaigning for mental health reform.
I would like to thank Enzymedica’s Tom Bohager for his support. Enzymedica is Florida-based founded in 1998 to offer consumers targeted digestive enzymes products. Considered America’s #1 selling enzyme brand sold by health food store retailers. They also offer a FREE Digestive Enzyme interactive education program that is very helpful in learning the benefits enzymes have on our over all health.
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Bonus My kids’ Drawings:LP 14*
Coming SoonSweet Pea 11 * Sweet Pea 11 Precious 10 *Precious 10 Drew you twice! Belly 7*Belly 7
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Stewart, C. (2013). Kim Conley Mental Health Hero #MentalHealthMonth. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 6, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2013/05/kim-conley-mental-health-hero-mentalhealthmonth/