McCann discusses mental health in ‘Speak Little Forest’ episode
Promoting and maintaining mental health is a more relevant topic than ever before, in large part due to the pandemic. Meghan St. John, creator of a new podcast called Speak Little Forest, recently delved into the topic with Pam Coley McCann, a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in the Berkshires and Associate Professor of Human Services at Berkshire Community College (BCC). The episode, titled “Hope for Hard Times,” can be found at www.speaklittleforest.com.
Pam and I talked about a variety of subjects, all connected to mental health and our special Berkshire community,” St. John said. “She brought something really positive to the table that I had never really heard of before.”
Despite the fact that poverty, addiction, and other mental health stressors are on the rise in the Berkshires — even more so during the pandemic — Coley McCann sees hope for her clients and students. Specializing in individuals with severe mental illness, she is most inspired by post traumatic growth theory, which holds the premise that certain people who survive mental or physical trauma can change in unexpected, positive ways. “People with severe mental illness are just people. They have hopes and dreams like everybody else,” she said. “Post traumatic growth is about people changing in ways that they didn’t anticipate, by finding new things that are meaningful to them.”
Stigma remains a barrier for people with mental illness, both in terms of recognizing their problems and seeking treatment, noted Coley McCann, who focuses her work not just on symptom management, but also on recovery. “It’s about bridging the gap between having a severe mental illness and learning to live with that,” she said.
“I’m always amazed at what human beings can endure, and how they can turn that pain into really beautiful strength,” Coley McCann said.
In addition to the episode featuring Coley McCann, the Speak Little Forest podcast spotlights Kripalu Executive Chef Jeremy Rock Smith, Balderdash winery owners Christian and Donna Hanson, Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, and Westfield State University Associate Professor of Environmental Science John McDonald, a black bear expert.
About Pam Coley McCann
Pam Coley McCann, BSW, MSW, LICSW, joined BCC as an Assistant Professor of Human Services in 2017. With more than 35 years of experience as a social worker and 15 years of experience in private practice, she has studied behavioral addictions and the impact of trauma. Working from the lens of a trauma-informed perspective has been invaluable in her clinical work, and she shares her knowledge in presentations to school personnel, students, and colleagues.
About Speak Little Forest
Speak Little Forest is a podcast created and hosted by Meghan St. John for the people of the Berkshires — the small business owners, creatives, farmers, chefs, hunters, explorers, educators, healers, and trail dwellers. St. John, an English teacher at Monument Mountain Regional High School, describes herself as “a back road wanderer, mom, and culture vulture” who wants to hear the voices of her neighbors in the Berkshires and dig deeper into local issues of interest.