James Bellmore (Jimi) is reaching out to the community to share his endeavor to educate professionals by offering his personal perspective about living with mental illness. Jimi hopes to continue to grow his motivational speaking by extending his services to more providers locally. Health Affiliates Maine (HAM) has been utilizing Jimi’s presentations to support new providers upon orientation monthly. Consistently HAM gets the feedback that he is the best part of the orientation process and truly outlines the needs of our consumers with real examples.
So far, Jimi has reached over 3,000 providers. Jimi currently speaks for the CMMC residency program annually, Ascentria Community Alliance and HAM on a monthly basis; Jimi shares his experiences with providers as a person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia unspecified type in 1976. Jimi went into remission in 2003- having no psychotic symptoms. He had a brief relapse in 2013 but because of his previous experiences was able to reach out to supports and go into remission again quickly. He attributes his success to understanding his triggers and managing them, to having a great network of friends he considers his family, and honoring his friends and experiences through painting. He helps others by his example. Jimi wants to continue to reach providers, educate them on what it is like to be a consumer, as well as, how to look for and encourage recovery. He also shares how to support consumers with relationships, how to not judge lifestyles and individual choices, and engage consumers in hobbies. It is through his story Jimi is able to express constructive criticism that resonates with the providers.
During his engagements, he explains how he had good providers, not so good providers and amazing natural supports, referred to as “street people” who were often discouraged by his providers. Jimi recalls his “homies” being the biggest part of his recovery and offering encouragement and he often turned to this support even when providers thought they were the wrong crowd. Jimi first and foremost reminds providers that natural supports are the people that consumers can turn to all of the time. These relationships are crucial to success so do not talk badly about people’s friends and offend them. Second, he states, “don’t look for recovery and then deny it!” Jimi found at times that his medication and counseling providers would look to identify and treat symptoms when he it was clear he was in recovery. Third, he suggests that providers, “be honest and compassionate, be real, do not trick, do not go in with a desired outcome, listen to the consumer and work on their goals; tell the consumer about mandates, answer questions and listen to feedback”.
Jimi continues to look for ways to grow his motivational speaking opportunities and share his experiences to help shape the future of mental health care and bring a consumer perspective to the discussion at local agencies. Jimi can be reached for additional questions and scheduling for speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is Jimi pictured with Health Affiliates Maine staff as he donates art work that he has created as a reminder of the work he is doing with Health Affiliates Maine Staff.