DiscoverSurfacing - The Meaning in the Story
Surfacing - The Meaning in the Story
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Surfacing - The Meaning in the Story

Author: The Mental Health Association of Westchester

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Stories are powerful. Listening to them can inspire and telling them can heal. Both contribute to the process of growth. Join us each week to hear the extraordinary stories of individuals who demonstrate the life-changing power of resilience. They demonstrate the capacity within each of us not just to survive but to thrive.
46 Episodes
Join us as Maryrose Mercurio and Moira Trachtenberg share about an exciting project that MHA has had the opportunity to get involved in.  Maryrose is coordinating the Fair Street USA exhibition, and Moira is one of the artists helping to produce the art, which will be utilized to convey critical information about fair housing and discrimination.  The goal is to raise awareness and provide resources to promote fair housing for all.  Listen in to get a behind-the-scenes view of how this is all coming together and visit the art installation at the end of the month! See below for more details:Fair Street USA Art Exhibition and Block PartyWhite Plains Library PlazaJune 29th at 5:30 PMArt, Music, Food, Information, Community and more!Follow @cd_whiteplains on Instagram and @Fair Street USA on Facebook for more info and updates!
Jim Coyle is the musician behind the incredible music you hear in Surfacing's intro and outro.  In addition to his musical talent, he is also a dedicated employee of MHA's OnTrackNY program.  He works with young adults newly experiencing symptoms of psychosis, supporting them in pursuing their educational and employment goals.  His mission is to inspire hope in each individual and their family so that nobody experiences the damaging message that a mental health diagnosis means life stops moving forward.  He infuses his work with music, and after listening to this episode, you'll understand how his own family's experience gave him the passion to spread hope for recovery.Learn More About MHA here:
Emily Grossman shares her powerful journey from struggling with bipolar disorder to thriving with bipolar disorder.  In addition to sharing how her greatest struggle became a springboard to her best self, her story also demonstrates the importance of instilling hope that recovery is available to all.  Her story illustrates how powerful the messages are that we receive about mental health and how these can be harmful or harnessed for good.  Emily talks about experiencing thoughts of suicide in this episode, so we want to remind all of our listeners that help is always available and that it's never the wrong time to reach out.  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)Learn more about the Pathway Home program Emily discussed: Pathway Home™ – CBC ( more about MHA here:
Sharon McCarthy is the volunteer Program Coordinator at NAMI Westchester.  NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an organization that provides support and education in the community to individuals and families impacted by mental health concerns.  Sharon uses her own story of supporting her daughter through her recovery to illustrate the impact on families when a loved one is struggling with mental health.  She shares insights on common experiences for caregivers and the importance of family peer support.  This episode includes discussion of suicide and we want to remind you that help is always available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.    Lifeline ( more about NAMI Westchester: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Health Organization ( more about MHA Westchester:
Mike Ahearn from Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research joins us today to discuss his journey to recovery and how this has influenced his career today.  He covers a lot of ground during the episode, from his struggles with identity development in adolescence, to the challenges of entering adulthood, and how these and other factors contributed to a battle with addiction.  He then shares how he found self-esteem, meaning and joy in his recovery. He reflects on his gratitude for the life he has, while also offering genuine reflection on the grief and survivors guilt that co-exists with that gratitude.  His contagious energy and genuine emotion will pull you in and leave you feeling uplifted, hopeful and perhaps better able to understand the complex experience of those facing addiction.To learn more about Wellbridge: www.wellbridge.orgTo learn more about MHA:
China Darrington joins Jenna and Dillon today to share a powerful story of recovery that turned into a passion for advocacy.  China is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at Thrive Peer Recovery Services in Ohio, where she uses her knowledge, voice and passion to impact the larger systems that influence how behavioral healthcare is delivered.  Her story delves into some sensitive topics that we want listeners to be aware of, including sexual trafficking.  It’s incredibly important to have these conversations so that we can improve our responses and prevention efforts. China’s story also beautifully illustrates the impact of asking what happened instead of what’s wrong with you?  She weaves in powerful metaphors that bring her experiences to life and offers her thoughtful views on how we can do better as a nation to respond to those with behavioral health challenges. Here’s where you can find out more about Thrive Peer Recovery Services and some helpful resources: Thrive Peer Recovery Services: Human Trafficking Help and Resources: Find out more about MHA here:
Dillon Browne is the Coordinator of Peer and Recovery Services at the Sterling Community Center, a program of MHA Westchester, which is located in White Plains, NY.  Dillon came to MHA 7 years ago as an intern, and since then has dedicated his time to creating community amongst the participants of Sterling so that everyone can experience the transformative power of meaningful connection.  He describes how his own life experience taught him the importance of connection and community, and it becomes clear through his story where his passion and commitment come from.Learn more about MHA here:
State Senator Chris Kolker was a prime sponsor of the 988 legislation that would implement the three digit number for crisis response services in Colorado, making the suicide prevention lifeline even more accessible for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis.  While there was broad support for this legislation, hearing the story of why it is so meaningful to Senator Kolker will bring a whole new appreciation to his work in suicide prevention.  Listen in as he shares his story, including a lifelong struggle with depression, battling stigma, and using his political platform to normalize conversations and education on mental health.This episode contains discussions about suicide and suicide prevention.  Please know that if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is always available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)Find out more about Senator Kolker: Chris Kolker | Colorado General AssemblyFind out more about MHA:
We have another amazing MHA employee on the podcast today, Eric Teitelbaum, a clinician in our Children’s Services division.  It is always so inspiring to learn what drives a person to seek a career in helping others, and Eric’s story makes it clear why he’s so passionate about what he does.  His story reflects the power of resilience and demonstrates the reason why Eric has the hope and belief that resilience is possible for anyone. Find out more about MHA here:
Martin Gromulat, MHA Peer Specialist, shares the compelling journey that took him from lawyer, to environmental conservationist, to peer specialist.  He shares how his own lived experience turned him into a fierce advocate for mental health.  His passion for ensuring that those in mental health crisis receive the right care at the right time is what changes lives and systems.Find out more about Martin on his Linkedin profile out more about MHA here:
Christina McMurray, author of Live Laugh Fly: A Family's Journey Through Childhood Cancer, Unimaginable Grief, and the Realization that Love Never Dies, talks about the ways in which her life equipped her to cope through the unthinkable loss of her son.  She shares just several of the many signs she has received since her son died that let her know he is with her and that gave her the courage and strength to write her book and continue finding gratitude in her life.  Anyone who has experienced grief and loss will connect with her story and find hope in her journey.  She also donates all of her profits from the book to children’s cancer programs.  It’s the perfect time to pick up a copy!  We included the Amazon link below.Link to Live, Laugh, Fly
Deb Faust, the Director of Family Engagement and Co-Director of Building Connections at The Mental Health Association in New York State, provides a powerful account of her life journey.  She has faced much adversity and trauma, which she has used to fuel her life’s work, making an impact on the lives of countless individuals and families.  She is a formidable advocate, a talented writer and speaker, and you will be blown away by the power of resilience in her story.  To learn more about what she does in her work, please use the links below.Mental Health Association in New York State: innovative program called CarePath™ Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-Talk (8255)
Today we are joined by sisters Meredith Gallo and Courtney Hunter, who will share from their unique perspectives about a pivotal experience in their childhood.  Meredith talks about her struggle with mental health and addiction, while Courtney shares the family perspective.  Their insights about how these experiences shaped them are powerful, and they do so with humility and humor.  As always, when we share stories that include discussion about suicide, we want to make sure you know that help is always available and have included the link to the Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Crisis Text Line that Courtney referenced below.Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-Talk (8255)Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 or go to
Reginald Howard is a mental health advocate and the founder of The Black Mental Health Podcast, which is dedicated to understanding and unraveling mental health issues in the African American community. He has used his own experience and showcases real life stories to create connection with people who feel alone in their struggles.  He also shares that the podcast has been a mechanism for him to process his own experiences.  While the podcast is where his advocacy started, it’s certainly not all that there is to come.  Listen in and be amazed by all that he has accomplished and is poised to do in the future.Find out more about Reginald here out more about Reginald's podcast, The Black Mental Health Podcast here Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-Talk (8255)
Melissa Bernstein, one of the founders of the Melissa and Doug toy company, joined MHA for a community conversation in September.  She agreed to let us air this as a special podcast episode so that we could share it with a wider audience.  Melissa shares a heartfelt reflection on her lifelong journey with anxiety and depression, and how developing a powerful set of practices supports meaning in her life.  In her book, LifeLines, Melissa shares her inspirational journey in hopes that her story will help others find their path to meaning and inner peace.  It was too aligned with Surfacing’s theme to not include it here.  We hope you enjoy!  To learn more about LifeLines: 
Jeanette Fairhurst and Pat White are both dynamic women and fierce advocates for mental health.  They have unique and powerful stories that shaped who they are today.  Hear from them directly and you’ll understand why Jeanette is our honoree for this year’s MHA Gala celebrating 75 years in the community.  Pat is the Chair of the event, and we couldn’t think of two better representatives to help us mark this momentous occasion.Find out more and join us for our gala on October 14th! are now seeking storytellers for Season 3.  Reach out to us if you or someone you know would like to talk about becoming a guest.  Email us at Podcast@mhawestchester.orgNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Caroline Park and Neil Harman from Release Recovery join us for our final episode of Season 2. It was perfect timing for them to share their stories as National Recovery Month is wrapping up. They are both using their own lived experience to bring awareness to the strength and vitality of the recovery community and to eradicate stigma around substance use and addiction. Their stories are different, yet intertwine in fascinating ways, ultimately leading them both to careers at Release Recovery. To find out more about the life-changing, life-saving work of Release and the Release Recovery Foundation, check out the provided links!Release Recovery: Recovery Foundation: them on Instagram at:@releaserecoveryfoundation@releaserecoveryDon’t forget to reach out to us with suggestions at
Three extraordinary local high schoolers (entering their Junior and Senior year of HS) join the podcast to share their reflections on surviving the challenges of COVID as a teenager. They talk about what was unique about the experience for their age group, how they made the best of the lockdown, and most importantly, what they need from the adults in their lives as we enter the next phase of the pandemic. If you’re a teen, you’ll relate to what they share, and hopefully find some helpful tips for thriving in imperfect circumstances. If you’re an adult with a teen in your life, you’ll get some tips on how to connect and best support your teen through the upcoming school year. We thank these three for their openness and willingness to share with us!If you would like to contact us please email us at podcast@mhawestchester.orgFor resources please visit
MartinJon, Recovery Mentor, host of the podcast Recover Yourself, joins us today to share his story of recovery from addiction. He talks about how he discovered the key to his own recovery, which was recovering TO, rather than simply recovering FROM. He also talks about how important it is to recover your sense of self, which is a continual process of discovery and re-discovery. His mission is to share these keys with others in order to remind them of their value, which is about more than just recovery or sobriety.Find out more about MartinJon here: www.martinjon.comListen to his podcast at: help at MHA: would love to hear from you! Reach out to us with feedback and ideas, including suggestions for great guests at
David Richman, author of Cycle of Lives, joins Surfacing to talk about his 4,700-mile bike ride around the United States, during which he stopped to talk with individuals impacted by cancer in some way. He had spent years talking with these individuals and learning about their individual journeys. His book tells their stories in a way that is meant to inspire connection amongst those living with or supporting someone living with cancer. He talks with us about the experiences in his own life that led to the idea for this book. All proceeds from book sales go to cancer charities chosen by the people in the stories.Find out more about David here: help at MHA: would love to hear from you! Reach out to us with feedback and ideas, including suggestions for great guests at
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