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Addiction: A Story of Love and Loss

We met when I was 16 years old, and nearly 20 years and several serious relationships later, he remains the love of my life. His smile, his sense of humor, and his ever-giving selflessness are what I loved the most about him. Drugs took that all away. Early on, I wasn’t as concerned about his drug use because he worked full time in construction and went to community college at night. It was 2003, and I lived in the dorms at Temple University. We saw each other on weekends and occasionally during the week; but I had no idea how the disease of addiction was developing.  Looking back now, it makes sense considering his family’s cycle of addiction. His own father had overdosed a few years prior, and other members of his immediate family were in various stages of addiction. For his 22nd birthday, we took a trip to Ft.…

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A Colorful Legacy: A Mural Arts Story

Author: Laure Biron, MSS, LSW, is the Porch Light Program Director for Mural Arts Philadelphia. Also a practicing psychotherapist, she has worked for Mural Arts since 2008, beginning in the Art Education department and working additionally in Restorative Justice, Special Projects, and currently, the Porch Light Program At Mural Arts, we believe that hands-on art-making provides a strong pathway for individual and community healing.  Our Porch Light program, a joint collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, focuses on achieving universal health and wellness among Philadelphians, especially those living with mental health issues or trauma. We do this by providing opportunities to contribute to meaningful works of public art. Alongside the mural-making workshops and paint days that have taken place across our city, a series of important conversations have been crafted for audiences around Philadelphia to talk about what barriers and disparities exist for…

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Nursing & Mental Health

Happy Nurse’s Week to all of my fellow nurses out there!  I am very proud to be a nurse. It’s an amazing profession. Nursing is more than a job, though; it is a calling. It’s not just something you do, it is something you are; so it can be hard to maintain a level of separation when work is such an integral part of who you are. So how can nurses step back and make sure that they are caring for themselves in addition to the wonderful care they provide to their patients? First, let’s take a look at some facts.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) found that hospital nurses are twice as likely as the general public to suffer from clinical depression.  That is, 9% of “everyday” citizens experience clinical depression while a whopping 18% of nurses are affected. At first I found…

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Impact of Gardening on Mental Health

This week we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate these holidays than by getting your hands dirty. Gardening engages you physically, mentally, and socially. Health benefits are numerous and you don’t need to live in the suburbs or the country to experience gardening and its benefits.  Gardening can positively impact a number of health outcomes, including: Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety Decrease in reported stress and mood disturbances Decrease in BMI Higher reported sense of community Increased physical activity Improved cognitive function Gardening has both immediate and long-term effects on health. For individuals with mental health conditions, horticultural therapy - using gardening as a means to facilitate dialogue and skill building - has shown promise for improving chronic and acute mental health conditions. People report feeling happier almost immediately when engaging in gardening. Over time, individuals lowered their BMI through physical activity…

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