Stigma Nope not today

Hamilton Center Promotes May as Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and Hamilton Center, Inc. is working to bring mental health awareness to the forefront of the COVID-19 conversation. Beginning Friday May 1st, the organization will start its annual month-long campaign to recognize and promote mental health awareness.

The theme for this year is “Stigma Nope not today”.

“This is a message for those who face the reality of being stigmatized by others based on mental illness or other things,” said Zach Jenkins, Public Relations Specialist. “Stigma? Nope not today…as in one day at a time – I will overcome stigma and be who I am, my best self,” he added.

To help spread this message the organization is offering a limited number of T-shirts to community partners across its 10-county footprint. More information can be found at or at

“All of these efforts are meant to encourage individuals and groups to start a conversation about mental health in their communities with the hope that one day, together, we can end the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorder, said Melvin L. Burks, Hamilton Center’s CEO.

Several events, hosted by Hamilton Center, are scheduled throughout the month to provide opportunities for Hamilton Center staff and the community to engage and think about their own mental health. Here’s what to look for:

Friday May 1 – 1:15 p.m. – CEO Melvin L Burks will be Live on Facebook @HamiltonCenterInc to kick-off the celebration, announce the start of the “Stigma Nope not today” T-shirt campaign, and the inform viewers about the many different events and happenings scheduled for the month.

Friday May 8– Though the 29th Annual Sheriff Shootout has been postponed to an undecided date in the fall, CEO Melvin L Burks will be live on Facebook @HamiltonCenterInc to celebrate the tradition with sponsors and staff. As Hamilton Center’s only fundraiser, the tradition of this annual event will be kept alive by offering community partners the opportunity to support the organization in serving childrens’ behavioral health needs across west central Indiana.

Friday May 22– In recognition of May as Mental Health Month community members are invited to celebrate mental health by wearing green. Whether they have a “Stigma Nope not today” T-shirts or their own green outfit, all are invited to post images of themselves and friends on their personal or business social media. To find out more about the campaign visit or search for #StigmaNopenottoday.

In conjunction with these events, Hamilton Center clinical staff will submit a series of articles that discuss mental health trends related to the current public health crisis cause by COVID-19 including, men’s issues, Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and compassion fatigue, loss and grief, and substance use disorder. In addition, banners recognizing the celebration of mental health will be placed on county courthouse lawns throughout the organization’s service area and Indianapolis Power and Light, in downtown Indy, will be lit up in green on May 9.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN. Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services call (800) 742-0787.

Telehealth Takes Flight During COVID-19

Hamilton Center Serves 6,153 in One Month

Hamilton Center Inc. announced today that in just over one month (March 25, 2020 – April 28,2020), a total of 6,153 consumers have received behavioral health or substance abuse services using telemedicine –  telephonic and video conferencing technology.

These 6,153 consumers represent over 22,000 services delivered remotely in central and west central Indiana.

Although Hamilton Center offices remain open for crisis and for those that need to be seen fact to face, beginning mid-March, Hamilton Center Inc. lead by CEO Melvin L. Burks began initiating a plan to send 400 staff home to work remotely.  This included both administrative and clinical staff. 

“We are pleased that our plans are working and that healthcare operations continue despite this new service delivery process, said Melvin L. Burks.  It is critical that mental health and substance abuse services continue to assist those in need throughout our regional footprint” he added.

“The services represented by these numbers include therapy, medication management and community based services such as case management and skills training,” said Mark Collins, Chief Clinical Officer.  I would like to thank our hundreds of providers who are reaching out to those in need,” he added.

In addition to individual services, clients struggling with substance abuse issues can now join virtual group therapy sessions. 

Despite the many services being delivered by telemedicine, offices continue to be open for walk ins and crisis. People are encouraged to call or walk in for immediate service.

For additional information on services and coping strategies during this time, call the Access Center at 800-742-0787 or visit

Protector, provider, problem solver and bravery — reflections on being a man and finding balance during the public health emergency

By Paul Schneider, Ph.D.

“There’s spirits above and behind me, faces gone black, eyes burning bright. May their precious blood bind me, Lord as I stand before your fiery light.” – Bruce Springsteen, The Rising, 2002 

After 9/11, “The Boss” captured hope without negating loss. As a native of the New York Metropolitan area, my heart aches again, but this time, the damage has been more universal. 

As men, many of us have not been blessed with a huge vocabulary to describe our emotions; however, I sense that we are sharing emotional experiences during this public health emergency that will be transformative – and by being mindful of this process, perhaps we can gain a bit more control of it.

If I free associate to the word “man” from a personal perspective, here are the first themes that come to mind – protector, provider, problem solver, and bravery – but how are we all doing with those things?


As “protectors,” we are all familiar with the fight-flight reaction. The adrenaline response temporarily transforms us into physically stronger beings. Depending upon the situation, we may choose to fight or flee.  What we often leave out is the “freeze” reaction. Think of the possum and “playing possum.”  Many of us, men and women alike, have been told that our role right now is to “freeze” until given permission to do otherwise. But others have not been given the “freeze” option in their employment, leaving them the other two alternatives. They can take some risk and fight through it, or they can flee.  We want to protect ourselves and our families, but so far it remains difficult for us to accurately calculate risk.

So, how do I protect myself and my family? It is too late for me to become a molecular biologist, so I try my best to follow the guidelines, and I remain alert for any news about what the virus doesn’t like – such as bleach, sunlight and distances over six feet. I clean, but not as much as two weeks ago. Mostly, these activities help with the sense of learned helplessness.  “Learned helplessness” is a model of depression which suggests it is the result of a feeling of loss of control over what is most important to us. The solution to the problem is expressed most succinctly in the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”


Next, we have “provider,” and, honestly, one of the most “provider” type things that I am currently doing is grocery shopping. I have never seen so many men at Kroger! As a provider, I can help review our supplies and provisions, and perhaps I can occasionally make a purchase. While grocery shopping may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about being a “provider,” it does allow you to focus on providing in ways that you can control, and that is critical during this time.

Providers also earn and invest money, but for now, much of that is, unfortunately, in the column of things we can’t control. During this public health emergency, our job and financial security has less to do with our own behavior than ever before. In investing, we want to avoid emotional decisions, so many of us freeze, and that has been painful. 

Problem Solver

Then, we have “problem solver.” In my case, this is inexorably linked to probability and statistics. As I write this, my wife is sharing data on baseline infection rates in the general population. If accurate, it will turn every calculation I have done to date upside down. We don’t have the numbers we need to make informed choices. Most critically, what is the baseline probability that some random individual, including me, is actively spreading the virus? What factors or variables can help identify who is spreading the virus and how?  What percentage of transmissions occur due to surfaces or when we are not within six feet of someone? Are men more likely to contract or die from the virus?  If so why?

At some level, we all play a very low probability game of Russian roulette on a daily basis. We don’t stop driving because someone might cross the median and kill us.  What I feel, as a man, is that the longer my lifestyle is dramatically altered, the more risk I am willing to take to restore some semblance of normalcy. I imagine one of those large wheels at the casino.  On day 4 of physical distancing, my decision model will be much different than on day 44 or day 444.


Finally, there is bravery.  My dad was a medic and an Army lieutenant in World War II. He earned a Bronze Star.  I did not learn of this until after he passed.  I have not donned a uniform since boy scouts or marching band – and in marching band, I was third trombone, so I rarely blew a note. I do not know if I am a hero or coward. I am neither until tested. So far, this crisis has not provided that test for me. We are told that by physical distancing ourselves, we are protecting others. As a man, is it easier for you to tell yourself you are protecting others than to admit you are protecting yourself?  Could “bravery” lead to unwise risk taking?


Early on in this crisis, it was all about saving lives, and rightfully so. Now, there is talk of balancing that with the quality of life. My Mom is 100 years old and in a long-term care facility. My sons are early on in their careers. Just like many of you, I am trying to balance health and safety with quality of life for myself and those who I love. I continue to feel shocked, confused and sometimes a bit surreal, but I am also feeling that the longer this goes on, the more risk I personally am willing to take so I can find a balance that is right for me.

We have lost much control over our lives in the past months. For now, not forever, we need to learn to cope. By being mindful, and searching for the words that can describe this shared experience we can be transformative.

Protector, provider, problem solver, and bravery. While those themes are still prevalent when I think of the word “man,” they look a little bit different these days, and that’s ok.