Mental Health News Radio

Meet the Faces of Mental Health News Radio: Melanie Vann, Counseling and Program Director

We start with our Program Director, resident counselor, and Marketing & Advocacy Director, Melanie Vann. 

A trained behavioral health expert who’s innately intrigued by all that people come to endure during their lifetime, Melanie Vann has been working with Mental Health News Radio and everythingEHR since May 2015. Over the past year and change, her role with the MHNR team has evolved considerably, as she moved quickly from small marketing tasks to a more prominent role in show hosting and management.

Whether she’s on-air co-hosting or behind the scenes vetting guests or writing her next blog post, Melanie draws on her years in private practice as a counselor, life coach, and equine therapist to bring to light the hottest topics of behavioral health today. For more on what makes Melanie tick—and what’s to come regarding her role at MHNR—keep reading.

Right from the Horses Mouth: Equine Assisted Therapy with Mental Health Patients Works!

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Join us for a discussion about the therapeutic benefits of using horses in Behavioral Health therapy. All of us at Mental Health News Radio are animal lovers with a passion for animal-assisted therapy. Our very own Melanie Vann will be co-hosting a series of radio shows interviewing the passionate human beings that devote their time to this unique therapeutic effort. Our guests, Kristin Fitzgerald and Melanie Vann, discuss the benefits, roots, and models for Equine Assisted Therapy. More information is included in their accompanying blog article.

We’ve never done a show like this one!  

blog-talk-radioListen to the show!  

Welcome Melanie Vann, M.A. Counseling Psychology, Behavioral Health HIPAA Instructor

Please join us in welcoming Melanie Vann to everythingEHR. Melanie is working with our Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers and Public Behavioral Health Centers on HIPAA compliance and training. She works onsite with practices taking a view of all departments from administrative staff to the clinical team to make sure all processes are being followed that are specific to a behavioral health environment. 

Melanie joins us on Mental Health News Radio to discuss her love of animal-assisted therapy. She’s also our Creative Director, handling all of our marketing efforts for everythingEHR and our advocacy radio show. We could not do all that we do without her!

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LISTEN TO THE SHOW!

Therapy Dogs and College Students: Helping Students De-Stress Before Exams

Myles and Buddy Visit Western Carolina University Library At Exam Time!

Long Night Against ProcrastinationLast night Myles and his younger brother, Buddy, had so much fun!  The librarians at Western (North) Carolina University invited our CEO, Kristin Walker, to bring her therapy dogs to their event, “Long Night Against Procrastination!”  This idea “began in Germany and is gaining popularity in the US and Canada.  Students … have the opportunity to focus on specific projects in a safe and supportive space improving time management skills, reducing stress and enhancing academic performance.”  The library stayed open until 2 the next morning and even hosted a “survivor’s breakfast” at 1:30 am.

Animal-Assisted Therapy: What’s all the Bark About?

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Our therapy dogs, Myles and Buddy, were very busy the month of November. They were asked to take part in a course given by NCTide on the importance of using animals during behavioral health therapy. Led by Jill Queen, the president of NCTide, Kristin Walker, therapy dog handler, and Barbara Love, mental health counselor.  Kristin also presented 2 additional sessions on what is trending next in behavioral health technology.

nctideWe decided to make this course experiential. We had about thirty participants join and had them sit in a large circle. Myles and Buddy sat in the middle of the circle with Barbara Love and Kristin Walker. Thankfully someone remembered to bring a lint roller! All we saw were a sea of black pant legs begging to be covered in hair.  

A Thank You for Myles

mylesandbuddyToday was special for Myles.  He’s been visiting patients for about four years at the same place, every week. Puppy Prozac is what he’s called and the only time he was “off duty” was for a few months this year with a foot injury. He is getting older so we spend more time on the floor rolling around rather than chasing tennis balls up and down hallways.  

 

He’s big for a Border collie – big boned – a gentle giant. Hips are giving way a bit so jumping up is not welcome, although he does try. I was laughing with some of the patients today about how we used to spend an hour with him waking everyone up. No one could stay in their hospital rooms with Myles barking and running after the ball – especially when we purposely slammed them into doors. I remember being in the elevator and a nurse on the floor beneath the behavioral health unit joined us. She asked if we could ever come downstairs because they can hear us having so much fun. “Fun!” she said. Who would have thought FUN was part of a mental health ward? It is though. Even with the slower pace. Even with the focus on eating treats and getting his hair brushed, it is still fun. People are still smiling when he shows up and the one’s who weren’t are smiling when we leave.  

Myles the Therapy Dog

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Meet Myles

Myles is a registered therapy dog. Currently Myles works at Haywood Regional Medical Center with the Behavioral Health Unit. He has a weekly group therapy session where he teaches humans how to throw him a ball properly. Myles also works at the library. He helps shorter humans read by staring silently at them with no other humans around. His goal is get them to read out loud for at least ten minutes so they can move on to more important things such as giving him treats and throwing him the ball.

Myles is happy to work anywhere he is invited.

Other places Myles has visited are:

  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Daycare Centers
  • Rehab Centers
  • Schools
  • Nursing Homes
  • Private Homes

His handler, Kristin Walker of everythingEHR, is also invited to speak at colleges and hospitals about the benefits of working with therapy dogs.

An Interview with a Therapy Dog Handler

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We asked the questions our readers have been emailing.   Myles of Smiles is a non-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote the use of therapy dogs within the mental/behavioral health community.

N: When you and Myles are working with kids, does he seem to bond with any certain types of children, for instance children with a mental health issue or children with behavioral disorders etc.? 

K: Great questions. I think all the kids need him just because he is such a positive presence. I always feel like I am delivering flowers. Everyone is happy when the flower delivery person shows up. Myles and I are greeted with smiles, cheers, “thank God you are here”, and lots of hugs.  The other day someone said it was our ministry.  I was surprised by this but I guess it is although no one has put me and the word ministry in the same sentence before.

Yes. These are the kids and adults he bonds with the most. He is very in tune with whatever is going on with their moods. He was well trained with moodiness (he is my dog after all :)) Seriously though, he gravitates towards all kids but if one of them is upset in some way he spends more time with them. He is great with kids that are really shy about reading too.

N: Do the children themselves seem to respond differently toward Myles depending on their health issues? Are there children with specific mental health disorders or behavioral disorders who seem to “need” the therapy with Myles more so than other children? If so, how do they show this to you? Does Myles pick up on this need?

Myles the Therapy Dog: Another Day In Paradise

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Another incredible day! We had a huge group of people mostly on the floor.  Everyone rolled around with Myles.  Everyone got covered in dog slobber and no one cared.  Myles is so cute I can hardly stand it.

First he “notifies” me when it is time to leave for the behavioral health unit at the hospital.  We have been going to this hospital for over 4 years.  It is his FAVORITE place in the universe.  We show up at 3:30pm on Fridays regardless of a holiday.  At about 3pm Myles becomes increasingly anxious and will park himself in front of me.  Being the butler as we call him (because he is so polite) he simply stares at me and waits for me to notice and then looks at the door.  This is my cue to put the laptop down and get his therapy dog vest on him.

He instantly turns into “Myles at work”.  He is very focused.  Typically he stretches out in the car but not on Fridays and not when it is time to work.  He sits straight up and monitors the road on the way to the hospital parking lot.

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