March is recognized yearly as National Brain Injury Awareness Month, and because Vinland specializes in working with clients with TBIs and substance use disorder, we always participate in various ways to support and acknowledge this month.
Our Director of Residential Services, Tom Beckers, hosted a lunch and learn internally for our staff to not only remind us of brain injury basics taken from the Brain Injury Association of America and our CBIS (Certified Brain Injury Specialist Certification) exams, but he also broke all of our clientele into groups, and conducted Brain Injury Basics workshops with them, which they found very enlightening.
In addition, our Mental Health practitioners brought in masks and paints, brushes, glitter, gems, feathers (& everything in between!) to work with all of our clients on artistically representing either their brain injury in their mask work, or, if they were someone without a brain injury, to instead decorate their mask to reflect either their journey through substance use disorder treatment and/ or their struggles with mental health issues along their way. We have included some of their inspirational creations in our upcoming Spring 2022 newsletter. If you’d like to receive a copy, just sign up on our “Contact Us” page, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then, during mental health groups, the clients created “ brain caps” which could be worn as hats. The caps have each of the lobes of the brain depicted along with basic functions for each lobe. This is an “experiential” activity that allows clients to look at and think about their brain injury in different ways. The mental health clinicians have been continuously weaving in Traumatic brain injury information into their classes – just one of them alone (Peggy) has introduced clients to videos on the subject, card games, word finds, cryptograms, and more!
Of course, Vinland participates year-round in being advocates for our clients who suffer from TBIs and mental health issues, along with substance use disorders, by not only the core work that we do daily but also by providing training sessions for treatment and veteran courts to help bring awareness to these issues all across the state of Minnesota. We also present on the subject to any hospital staff meetings, jails/prisons, social work, mental health team meetings, and to other treatment providers. We do this free of charge, as the need for education in the realm of TBIs is significant, particularly within the field of recovery and substance use disorders, as well as the need to help others make the connection between TBIs and those who are justice-involved. We are all working with those with TBIs, whether we know it or not.
In addition, Vinland participates monthly on the DHS TBI Advisory Committee and collaborates with others in the field focusing on this specific area of knowledge and advocacy.
Many people with disabilities have their lives defined for them. The #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign gives individuals a chance to overcome those definitions, allowing them to tell their own stories and change the narrative of their lives.