Monday, January 07, 2019
by Mary Williams • email@example.com
BJH | Patrick Wirthlin smiles when his activity therapy supervisor, Paula Kessler, CTRS, talks about how much he contributes to the psychiatry units at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the St. Louis community.
“I just do what I can and hope some good comes from it,” says Wirthlin, a volunteer at BJH. “Otherwise, the bad things from my past aren’t put to good use.”
Wirthlin, 65, is also a certified peer specialist, which means he’s received training to help others in their recovery. He volunteers twice a week and tries to be an advocate for patients receiving mental health care. Wirthlin has volunteered 6,000 hours on the units. “I assist the staff as best as I’m able,” he says.
As part of his contribution, Wirthlin talks to clinical teams about his own journey with mental health and what treatments worked for him. He attends treatment planning meetings with clinicians, social workers, nurses and others and participates in discussions about patient care. Wirthlin also talks to nursing students while they’re on their psychiatry rotation.
In 1972, Wirthlin was a patient at the former Jewish Hospital of St. Louis and at the former Barnes Hospital in the 1980s. With Wirthlin successfully stabilized on medication in 2007, Kessler suggested he take a volunteer position on the unit, but Wirthlin was hesitant. “I was a patient on that floor, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to volunteer there,” says Wirthlin. “But I appreciated the confidence activity therapy had in me.”
“His contributions help my team of activity and music therapists, and we value Patrick being here,” says Kessler. “Patrick can talk to patients and families in a way that we can’t. He can say, ‘I’ve been where you are now,’ and the patients respond positively to this.”
Wirthlin is also respected in the community. He has been a member of the Independence Center, a clubhouse for adults with mental illness, for more than 30 years. There, he has taught smoking cessation and meets with police officers who are receiving crisis intervention training. He also serves on the advisory board of the behavioral health network and speaks publicly to reduce the stigma around mental illness.
“It’s been a privilege and honor to volunteer here and to help people in the community,” says Wirthlin. “It’s also done a lot of good for me.”
Number of views (776)/Comments (6)
1/7/2019 3:47 PM
Great job Patrick!
Lydia Grace Erves
1/9/2019 8:07 AM
We in Volunteer Services say THANKS PATRICK!!
1/9/2019 3:27 PM
We need more mental health advocates in the community like Patrick. Thank you for what you're doing!!
1/10/2019 2:26 PM
Patrick you are a great example of someone who shows that you can turn a negative situation into a positive outcome. Very proud to have known you all these years.
1/12/2019 12:41 PM
We LOVE you Pat!!!!
1/13/2019 11:38 AM
Patrick, you are a shining example of the resilience of the human spirit ... the world appreciates you!