My name is Scott Anderson; I am mental health peer, meaning that I have psychological conditions (with symptoms first being diagnosed at age six), specifically, Anxiety, Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not OCD), and use my own experiences to help others. I sees these conditions as both useful and challenging; while my symptoms have presented difficult times in my life, I have also gained insight into understanding psychological conditions and working with the various aspects related to them, allowing me to use my skills and background to reach out to and help others with mental health struggles, as my heath allows.
I founded Kalamazoo Hope (originally known as Kalamazoo County Resource Nexus, a.k.a. KCRN) in January of 2012 as a volunteer project. I started, and continue to fund, KHOPE using a portion of my disability stipend; I operate it with a desire to aid the Kalamazoo County area, contribute to my own personal growth and development, and provide inspiration to individuals with disabilities. In 2018, I chose to refine its focus from general assistance to specifically helping those with psychological conditions.
Kalamazoo Hope is an online guide into understanding psychological health and finding related resources in the Kalamazoo County, Michigan area, not just for those with psychological conditions, but also family, friends, groups, and others who desire to learn more about such, as well as individuals wishing to improve their general mental health; all of this is provided free of cost or obligation. It is hoped that these materials will help one become self-empowered by providing the direction, fortitude, and tools to solve their own life challenges, as well as allow them to aid others who require assistance for a quality life.
In addition, it seeks to create a sense of community and improve acceptance for those with psychological conditions and addressing mental health through such means as social media, as well as improve their quality of life via community involvement and projects, such as those listed below.
Since its founding in 2012, I have been fortunate enough to be able to help the local community in some of the following ways:
In 2013, the Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council included Kalamazoo Hope (then Kalamazoo County Resource Nexus, KCRN) as another source to consider for resources in the Additional Information section of its Family Help Book (page 62).
In mid-2014, I worked with Coordinator Mark Lull of Allegan County Transportation Services, County Administrator Dan Wedge, and Richard Congdon of Metro to create the option for individuals in Kalamazoo County to utilize Allegan County's shuttle service, allowing for a wider range of travel for those without their own transportation.
In early 2015, Kalamazoo Hope worked with Ann Bonevich of Kalamazoo NAMI, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office, and several other individuals to correct some terms on the Sheriff's Office's Project Lifesaver page; the words and phrases removed are considered highly offensive in today's culture.
Since 2015, Kalamazoo Hope has sponsored or supported OutFront Kalamazoo's (formerly the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, KGLRC) yearly June Pride festival. Due to family rejection, abuse, bullying, and social ostracism, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals have a notably higher rate of certain psychological conditions, such as anxiety and depression, as well as a greater likelihood of suicidality.
In May of 2016, others and myself spoke to the City of Portage Human Services Board, advocating that the Portage Non-Discrimination Ordinance be changed to include individuals who are discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ordinance was passed by the Portage City Council on June 28th, 2016.
In 2018, I decided to shift from aiding Kalamazoo County at large to specifically assisting individuals with psychological conditions; with this change, KCRN became Kalamazoo Hope.
On April 27th, 2018, I received the Volunteer Kalamazoo 2018 STAR (Sharing Time and Resources) Adult Volunteer Award for my work related to Kalamazoo Hope and OutFront Kalamazoo, where I have volunteered since 2014.
For May of 2019, I requested that the City of Portage locally recognize Mental Health Awareness Month; the proclamation I wrote was kindly accepted by the city, and signed by Mayor Patricia Randall on May 7th. Footage of the city council meeting can be viewed on the City of Portage's website (the event takes place within the first seven minutes; the proclamation itself can be viewed below.