Eric Maisel
Source: Eric Maisel

The following interview is part of a “future of mental health” interview series that will be running for 100+ days. This series presents different points of view about what helps a person in distress. I’ve aimed to be ecumenical and included many points of view different from my own. I hope you enjoy it. As with every service and resource in the mental health field, please do your due diligence. If you’d like to learn more about these philosophies, services, and organizations mentioned, follow the links provided.

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Interview with Jane Linsley

EM: Can you tell us a little bit about Gould Farm?

JL: Gould Farm is a therapeutic community for people living with mental health challenges. Our residential treatment program is located on a 700-acre farm in western Massachusetts. Residents (who are referred to as “guests”) join in the work of the farm and community, tending to animals, growing vegetables, baking bread, making meals, and even helping run a small cafe. 

When guests are ready to move on, we have a continuum of care including transition homes in Boston and the Berkshires and an extended community that supports lifelong recovery.

EM: Would you say that you have an underlying philosophy with regard to what helps people in distress?  

JL: The broad strokes of recovery at Gould Farm encompass purposeful work and service, relationship with self and others in a community that fosters recovery and a sense of possibility.   The Farm itself enables a sense of connection with place and nature. Our therapeutic model provides the time and space for an individual to include their own experience and voice in creating a narrative of what has happened that brings them to this moment in time. Through these beliefs, our staff and guests collaborate to explore strengths and abilities to reengage with a life of meaning beyond a diagnosis or crisis.

EM: What are your thoughts about so-called psychiatric medication as it relates to the folks you serve?  

For some, medication is an important tool and for others it is not. Our psychiatrist is a part of a network of support that surrounds each guest.  That network (staff, peers and family) provides a continuum of care for the entire time they are with us and can give active feedback and support about the use of medication or other supports for stability.

If medication is necessary we hope always to find the lowest dosage of a medication that will enable a person to stabilize a pattern that may have emerged in crisis or in its aftermath. No two people are alike and therefore how medicine fits in a holistic picture of health varies with each person we encounter.

We are fortunate to be a setting where we can support people in making medication adjustments that enable them to form a relationship with a medication. This can be a process. We try to understand the role of medication within a holistic picture of who a person is.

EM: How can people support “communities of care” like yours, either yours specifically or, more broadly, the concept of “communities of care”? 

Come volunteer at the Farm, join our community for a day to learn more about the nuances of how we work side by side in the daily activities of running a 700 acre sustainable Farm. All of our staff and their families live on the property. We share the day-to-day work as well as meals and play. Donate to enable us to continue a one hundred year tradition of making our treatment accessible regardless of ability to pay.

Whether here or in your own world, actively work to break up the stigma that surrounds emotional issues, accept those in your family, neighborhood or circle of influence who may have in the past or may now struggle with mental health issues. Become a voice of inclusion, hire people who have struggled, believe in their dreams and see their vision. If you have suffered emotional distress risk letting others know, possibly at first to be supported and also to make visible the possibilities of recovery.

EM: If you had a loved one in emotional or mental distress, what would you suggest that he or she do or try?

JL: I believe in what I do and the model we are. I would want them to have the opportunity to be heard, to include their experience and understanding in the narrative of what is happening. I would want them to be able to be supported in seeing abilities and strengths in their daily structure, to have connections and to have a network of support that followed them in their journey. I would want them to have relationships over time with treaters who knew them and who took the time to know me and the rest of the network of support available.  

I would want them to have community and meaningful structure in their days and connection and fun in their downtime. I would want healthy food and an understanding of the role of food and nutrition as well as medicine and therapy. I would wholeheartedly want for a loved one to have an experience like Gould Farm as a foundation for the journey of healing that is life.

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Jane Linsley has been working in the field of mental health and addictions for over 30 years, and on the Gould Farm Clinical Team since 2004. She has been Clinical Director of the team since 2006. A graduate of Smith School for Social Work, she is licensed in social work and addictions, with additional certifications in both Trauma and Women’s Relational Theory of Mental Health. She has as an on-going passion for beneficial new therapies and work in the area of mental health care, as well as an on-going, and long-standing, passion for how people relate to issues of inclusion and the shame resulting from stigma – both for the individual and as a culture.

Website: www.gouldfarm.org 

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Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of 40+ books, among them The Future of Mental Health, Rethinking Depression, Mastering Creative Anxiety, Life Purpose Boot Camp and The Van Gogh Blues. Write Dr. Maisel at ericmaisel@hotmail.com, visit him at http://www.ericmaisel.com, and learn more about the future of mental health movement at http://www.thefutureofmentalhealth.com

To learn more about and/or to purchase The Future of Mental Health visit here

To see the complete roster of 100 interview guests, please visit here:

http://ericmaisel.com/interview-series/

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