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Improving the availability of inclusive mental health
services for all residents in Clay, Platte and Ray counties.

WJC Intervention Program: Sharing Lives

The William Jewell College Psychology Department’s Intervention Program matches students and behavioral health consumers to share stories and learn from each other. More information is available here.

A Holiday Celebration

They were friends, getting together to celebrate the holidays. They’d looked forward to and prepared for the gathering for weeks. After everyone was settled in the huge dining room, they played a game in which folks could win "magic" stones by recalling song words. They sang “The 12 days of Christmas” and each table made up motions for one part.

Everyone looked ridiculous, which of course was most of the fun. They shared a sumptuous lunch, served by people who greatly enjoy their work. After lunch, everyone received a small, wrapped gift. Glenda was delighted with the pillow that looked like a donut because she is not allowed to eat sweets. Carter was pleased with a battery-powered lantern, by which he could read in the evening.

They shared memories of the time they’d spent talking together. Yes, about half were individuals with severe, chronic mental illness and about half were college students, but that distinction was incidental. They were friends getting together, enjoying each other.


Arthur hadn’t really attempted suicide; yes, he had jumped off a bridge, and yes, it was deliberate.

But he was not thinking in terms of killing himself. Rather, he jumped in obedience to voices that he heard, voices he felt compelled to obey.

When the students who had been visiting with him heard what had happened and that Arthur might not survive, they asked to be able to visit him in the hospital.

The look of welcome relief on Arthur’s face when the students walked in was a picture worth a million words. Arthur could not yet speak because of a tracheal tube, but the power of friendship was abundantly evident.

Arthur grew stronger and eventually was released from the hospital. He continued singing and writing country/western songs for several more years.


The book was beautiful. It would never make the best seller list and probably would not be found on the shelf at a bookstore, but, inside and out, it was beautiful.

Its contents were poems, the work of Maria, a woman in her 40s who had seen a lot of life. She was challenged by a mood disorder and, periodically, drug dependency. Yet these were poems designed to uplift the reader.

The students who visited her had encouraged and supported her writing. One, an art major, designed a cover that reflected Maria’s new attitude of hope. We had the book bound and made copies for Maria’s family. Another copy remains in the college psychology office, a testimony to the creative work that is possible within the encouragement of friendship.


Ed had asked to talk to a classroom of college students. He’d met many students from the campus and been visited by them for years. Still, we were a little nervous.

Ed copes with paranoid schizophrenia and often has trouble maintaining a coherent line of thought. We knew the students would be supportive, but we did not want Ed to be uneasy or embarrassed. He had brought note cards and began reading through them, hesitating often.

Finally, he put down the cards, turned to the class and said, “I’d like to just answer your questions, if that’s all right.” The questions came easily; the students were respectful and interested, and Ed answered frankly and with insight. It was, perhaps, the most productive interchange the program had seen in in years.

Afterwards, over lunch with several of the class members, Ed asked, “Do you think the class learned something today?” The immediate, affirming responses would stay in Ed’s heart for years.

The Clay, Platte, Ray Mental Health Board of Trustees
3100 NE 83rd Street, #2700, Kansas City, MO 64119 • (816) 468-1772 •
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