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Monthly eNews
May, 2010
Table of Contents
About Conard House 
Find out more about What We Do & Who We Serve including current programs and plans for future services.
In The News 
March 31, 2010
While Health Care Legislation Promises Better Long-Term Access to Mental Health Care, CASRA Session to Discuss a Powerful Approach to Achieving Healthier Lives with Diminishing Resources
Upcoming Anniversary Events 
Symposium on

To be added to the invitation list for this free event, please send an email to
Celebrating 50 Years 
This is our 50th annversary of service to the San Francisco community and its residents living with serious mental illness. Highlights of our year-long celebration, recent and upcoming.
Elaine Mikels at the Pentagon
Our Founder
Conard House founder Elaine Mikels describes her transformation from "closet lesbian to radical dyke." Her vision created San Francisco's first halfway house.
Jackson Street Residential Program
San Francisco's first
psychiatric halfway house
Elaine Mikels Award 
To honor our founder's accomplishments as a "restless innovator" and to support the work of others like her, we have established the Elaine Mikels Award.
Old Lesbians Organized for Change 
features a group photo of their founders.  Elaine is both our founder and one of theirs.
SF Pride 
40th Anniversary Celebrates Elaine and her contributions to social justice.
Dear ,
On the occasion of our 50th Anniversary Year, Conard House is pleased to launch this first edition of eNews. Each month we will deliver to your inbox all the latest news and details of events at Conard House.
I hope you will forward the newsletter to your friends and colleagues. We want this to be a first step in the development of a conversation among all parts of the mental health services community.  Your feedback is important to this discussion. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.
Best regards,
Richard Heasley, MPA
Executive Director

At the time Elaine Mikels founded Conard House in 1960, she was no stranger to the stigma and discrimination associated with "different." It was her personal struggle, life experience and social work training that led her to create the first psychiatric halfway house in San Francisco. As an "early adopter" of psychosocial rehabilitation (aka psychiatric rehabilitation outside of California), Mikels sought to create an "atmosphere of normal expectation," including one of recovery, as defined by the individual. This fierce champion of civil rights and social justice led the way.
Today, 50 years later, Conard House is the first organization to introduce the well-established, evidence-based, principles and practices of chronic illness self-management to a unique population--the 500+ residents in our supportive housing. Elaine's pioneering spirit continues to sustain us--clients and staff alike--and to guide our mission--to develop resources to help people self-manage mental illness.
According to some studies, within the decade more than half of American adults will be living with and needing to self-manage at least one health condition. How does it feel to be chronically ill? It makes you dependent, powerless--vulnerable to and fearful of becoming marginalized, isolated and ignored. It can be, in a word, terrifying.
The challenge is to lead a healthy life, a life not defined by chronic illness. Within our large and aging supportive housing population (average age is 52), many struggle with chronic mental illness, as well as physical health conditions and co-occurring substance disorders. Accordingly, our attention has increasingly turned to helping our residents expand their personal capacities for both the prevention and self-management of chronic health conditions. To that end, we developed our Health Education Project (HEP).
Every week, for six weeks, a small group (10-15) of our clients and staff spend two and a half (2.5) hours together--in a classroom. Professional hats are left at the door. Yet everyone is an expert. And clients are the experts on living with chronic mental illness. The group is attending a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) workshop , developed over 30 years ago by Stanford University for people living with chronic medical conditions, e.g., diabetes, arthritis, heart disease etc. Under the direction of two co-leaders (at least one of whom has a chronic condition), participants are there to educate themselves about the process and practice of self-management, to learn from and support each other's positive efforts to become better self-managers. That's the goal and the measure of success--increased capacity to self-manage chronic illness, from the point of view of the expert who matters, the client.
What does self-management mean? It means developing regular use of the CDSMP's essential building blocks: action planning and problem-solving. It means the ability to make informed choices, to adapt new perspectives, to acquire and use generic skills that can be applied to new problems as they arise, to practice new health behaviors, and to regain and maintain stability.
To date a total of 73 people--equally divided between clients and staff--have completed the six-week basic workshop. Prompted and informed by feedback from workshop graduates, we are now working on an advanced training workshop. The advanced workshop will offer supplementary training for solving problems in areas that our residents described as particularly challenging.
In an era of unprecedented reductions in our public system of care, Conard House use of CDSMP is an effective way to develop personal resources for mental health including, most importantly, hope.
Alex Kutik
Former board member
"Acceptance respects their illness.
Expectations respect their strength."
Elaine Mikels, 1962
The Conard House Health Education Project (HEP) began in 2008. It is funded in part by a grant from the Mount Zion Health Fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by The San Francisco Foundation, the Margoes Foundation and the Michelson Foundation.
For more information:
Stanford CDSMP
Conard House HEP
Christian Intemann, Director
415.346.6380 or
"I've learned to manage my chronic conditions by the different techniques that were taught ... like breathing, relaxing, exercising, stretching and others throughout the training. A better way of living!"
"Helps me to organize my thoughts, feelings and objectives toward my health care both for my self-management and for the system I must deal with."
"I have learned new ways of coping with my health. The material was easy to understand and applied to most people's conditions. Repetition of the action plans was helpful in reaching goals. I enjoyed the feedback and support of the group. I know I am not alone."

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