Reflections Newsletter

In May during Mental Health Awareness month Recovery Innovations for Pursuing Peer Leadership and Empowerment officially relaunched its website, This new site was built to be a useful resource for those working in or receiving services from the mental health and addiction service community. Our resource links page (shown right) is the new core of the site. At the start of July, it had over 650 resource links listed for peers and providers in the state of Connecticut.

The page offers links fine-tuned to what you’re looking for, 24 different resource categories are listed, and they are all cross-referenced. Let’s say you are looking for addiction recovery help; you want something that is LGBTQ+ friendly and offers specific services to young adults. With these custom links, you can find what you’re looking for faster. The whole site is icon driven, which means you do not have to read every link description. Another benefit is that we have done a lot of leg work and research to ensure these sites are not a dead end.

Unlike a Google search, we have made sure all of the services are located in the state of Connecticut, that the websites we linked to are still active and that the services described are still available. There are no distracting ads on our site, nor are we promoting any service agency. Ripple is made up of Peers with lived experience. We know how difficult it can be to navigate your way to the resources you need. The work in this section of the site is ongoing, and we are always looking for services that are useful to those in the recovery community.


If you visit other sections of the website you will find out a little more about Ripple, and our programs, such as our Crisis Cards, Community Conversations, Inmate Resources, Support Buttons and more, check us out! like Ripple itself is driven by a few dedicated folks who volunteer our time to hopefully help others. If you would like to join Ripple, we are always looking for others with lived experience with mental illness and addiction. For more information, please visit the contact us section of our website..

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Raising Awareness: Did you know that starting 11 years ago back in 2008, July was designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?

Some of you might be thinking to yourselves that Mental Health Awareness month just happened to months ago in May, your right. You may also be thinking that since we as a nation observe Mental Health Awareness month, it encompasses our entire national community, again you are right. If you ask the question, does everyone have access to the care they need when they need it?

The short answer is, no, they do not. A minority by definition is a group of people who are underrepresented among the population. These groups often face unique obstacles and struggles when seeking treatment for mental illnesses in the United States, even in modern times. To increase resources, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services created a new office. Many consumers are still unaware of this office’s existence. Ripple learned about it after researching information for this article. It is called the Office of Minority Health, (OMH), and it is located in Rockville, MD.

The following are statistics available to the public; they are taken directly from the Office of Minority Health website, According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.
  • Almost 25% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.
  • Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.
  • In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
  • In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.

For more information visit the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Minority Health website at or call their resource center Toll Free: 1-800-444-6472 / Fax: 301-251-2160

One minority not mentioned anywhere on the government’s website is the LGBTQ+ community. Most people associate the term minority with race or geographic origins, it should also be noted that it can be used to describe underserved communities, including those who may identify as part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. According to several studies, young adults in the community are more likely to experience PTSD, depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorders than other adolescents in the same age range.

We mentioned that our website has a resource page that is aimed at helping members of the LGBTQ+ community get connected to services. Organizations listed here have made providing members of this community feel welcomed. They strive to create an environment that is safe and supportive at all times. They believe in equality and are respectful of everyone’s right to be who they are and who they are. We invite you to visit our site for more information.

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Recovery means different things for different people, and not all recovery journies are the same. Many believe that recovery is impossible until the person in crisis makes a choice to get better and is ready to do the work.

Recovery is the little red dot…We have all seen people goofing around with a laser pointer, especially with all those videos on the internet of cats and dogs chasing that pesky red dot. I like to think of my depression like the red dot, and I play the part of the cat. I can see the dot; my eyes are telling me it is there, but I can’t touch it. I know my depression is there, I can feel it, and I know there is no cure. That does not mean I quit and give up, does it?

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned for me in watching the cat play with that red dot. Depression is a part of me and my personality. It effects my relationships with other people, and it is something I have to work on to keep in check. The cat is always ready to chase the dot and so I must always be ready to chase after what matters to me. I know it seems strange to compare myself with a cat, but there is a point to this. The cure to my depression is not to chase after a dot that can’t be caught. It’s looking down into my hand and realizing that I am the one holding the laser and I am in control of it.

There will always be times in life when we fall. Just remember it is not the fall that defines who we are. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start over again. Think back to the red dot, the cat does not see it as the thing he’s failed to catch, the cat sees it as a goal. Just because you don’t reach your goals at first, does not mean you stop pursuing them. Stigma is a big obstacle in the treatment of mental illness, and a lot of people don’t seek the help they need. As a peer in recovery, I know the first steps down the recovery path can seem overwhelming, but I can guarantee if your reading this, you have already survived things far more frightening.

So what are those first steps? The first and perhaps most important step is choosing to reach out for help. Who you reach out to would depend on not only what your symptoms are but your level of comfort as well. A good suggestion would be to sit down with a family member or a trusted friend who can assist you in finding help. Whether you have taken your first step or not it is important to remember you are NOT alone. When you meet with a treatment provider for the first time, you should feel safe, listened to, and respected. You are allowed to change your provider at any time should you feel that the treatment atmosphere is not compatible with your needs.


During your first few sessions, a treatment plan is generally created. This plan is revisited and reviewed regularly; it will be used as a way to gauge your progress. You can also update the plan as needed to incorporate new goals as you move further into your recovery. The key is to remember that you are the most important part of your treatment team, and like anything else in life, no one will work harder for what you want than you. So this means you must be ready to do the work in order to be successful. Once all the initial work is completed, you have the most important red dot of all. It’s the one on the map that says, “you are here.” Now your journey down the road to recovery can truly begin. –  Segments taken from, Power of the Peer © 2017 Jeffrey Santo

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Ripple is more than an idea; it is a small number of people who are working in the community with one real goal. We want to make a difference in someone else’s life while we continue on our recovery journey. In this photo, Desiree Barton and Jeffrey Santo are promoting the Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health walk which was held back in May. Jeffrey served as this year’s chairperson and did some of the leg work needed to get the necessary permits needed. At the walk, Desiree volunteered to welcome people at the sign in table, handing out the purple bandannas, giving out water, and answering various questions that walk participants may have had.

The most important thing any advocate needs remember is that even small things matter. If you drop a pebble into a pond, it won’t make a tidal wave; it’s just a small ripple on the water. Don’t walk away from the water’s edge, thinking that you did not make a change. Once in the water, that pebble and its ripple can’t be stopped until it hits the shore on the other side. Now imagine if we all started dropping pebbles into the water…

Ripple’s first-ever publication was Power of the Peer in late 2017; it is, in fact, our only publication. When it debuted, it had a retail price of $15 and a discount price of $10 for all peers living with mental illness or addiction. As part of our Mental Health Awareness Month observance, we are setting a retail price of only $10. A limited quantity of these books is available at this price.

We are currently clearing out all of the first printings and making way for a slightly updated 2nd edition. If you are interested in adding this book to your library collection, please contact us at

We are planning on releasing several new books between 2020 – 2021. The second book from Ripple will talk about mental health and incarceration; the working title is BROKEN: On The Inside.

You may remember Ripple’s “purple shirts” that have been seen on and off at local events over the last couple of years. We are planning on creating new ones in the future with a different message on the back. The “We must be DEAFENING” book project is unfortunately on hold as the creator of this endeavor is no longer with us.

These t-shirts and buttons are still available for a limited time. If you are interested contact Ripple at for more information, shirts will be $10 regardless of size, and the buttons are available for $1 each.

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