Chris Celio wins 2017 Hope Award

In Augustl, 2017, Chris Celio, PsyD, one of Hume Center's Directors of Clinical Programs, won the Hope Award, as voted on by Contra Costa County's SPIRIT graduates. The SPIRIT program is a widely recognized six-month, college-level training program for individuals with lived experience in the adult mental health system, either as consumers or family members. Chris Celio has taught a few classes in SPIRIT yearly since 2011 and in 2017 he taught classes on Communication Skills, Undersetanding Clinical Boundaries, and Self-Care for the Behavioral Health Professional.

During the 2017 SPIRIT Graduation, Chris was presented with the Hope Award and shared the following speech with those in attendance:

"There’s a running joke in my family. Everyone always laughs at me because whenever I see someone yawning, even a dog yawning on TV, I’ll yawn. For some people, yawns are contagious. Even writing this speech made me lightheaded as I kept yawning.

So anyways, yawning is contagious. We yawn when someone else yawns because we are mirroring their internal state and trying it on for ourselves, so our brain tells us we need oxygen. Researchers looked into what else is contagious in the same way and found some surprising social results.

Simple social exposure between people is enough for ideas and feelings to transfer. Ideas can transfer rapidly through a group of people, and I’m not even talking about Twitter here. The most depressing of this research focused on the contagious nature of thoughts of suicide, yet the most exciting of this research found out that HOPE IS CONTAGIOUS. As you learned to tell your story in SPIRIT, I hope you felt some hope and pride. As you heard 50 other stories of hope, I imagine you were overflowing with it and are ready to spread that around the county as you started to do so in your internships!

Because as you reawaken hope in those we serve and their family, you help them get up from despair, leave behind the shackles of identifying as symptoms, step out from the shadow of isolation, and into the world where they too will one day be a beacon of hope. You also refresh the hope in the other providers you serve with.

I was glad to see that research has confirmed that recovery is better predicted by the growth of strengths than by the elimination of pathologies and deficits. If we focus only on reducing symptoms and keeping folks out of the hospital, then we might end up with some lonely folks who never leave their house. Research found that we need to be aiming for five things in our interventions, and you’ll notice reduction of symptoms is not among them: connection, hope, positive sense of identity, meaning, and empowerment. Many of you have shared how you found all five of these, through your own journey first and then enhanced by SPIRIT. As you meet folks in this field, I want you to remember three things:

  1. Instead of obsessing about reducing symptoms, focus first on the question of: How is my intervention leading to connection, hope, positive sense of identity, meaning, and/or empowerment?
  2. Hope is contagious, just like a yawn. You are the hope in the system, so be the hope, shine brightly! But for those days when you can’t shine bright, remember that that’s ok and you can absorb some hope from others. Take care of each other so that you can spread that contagious hope as far and wide as possible.
  3. All of the research on hope and recovery points to “The System” needs to be realigned toward hope, “The System” needs to accept the role of peer providers, “The System” may not be ready for the type of interventions and providers that can really implement these research findings. Well our system is not just ready, it’s optimized for hope, and this SPIRIT class is the proof! At every meeting I go to and every new opportunity I hear about, peer and family providers make up the key ingredient to new programs and services. We are working in a county at a time where we have CSWs in PES, Miller Wellness, the clinics, in FSPs and ACT Teams, in shelters, on streets and creeks, people’s homes, and everywhere else. The best example is that two of the newest and most exciting programs of 2017 all feature teams that are made up of a clinician and a CSW. This county will be bringing treatment into the Board and Cares, and help bring the light of hope to them by including a CSW as an equal member of each team. And the county is creating a 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response Team that will go out at all hours of the day and night to bring hope to those who are in the deepest of crises, and CSWs will make up half of those teams. Make sure your resumes are ready!

They say that hope for recovery can be the most contagious when the path to recovery is the most visible, when it challenges stigma, and when it does not exclude people. And so this ceremony today, in which you stand as so many examples of what is possible, will reinvigorate the hope in all those present that wellness is possible even for those suffering the most right now.

I am proud to work in this county where lived experience is valued and respected in so many concrete ways. You are all charged therefore to keep helping the system improve. Whenever people complain about the system, remember, you are now the system and you can help it improve even further, your voice will always be listened to. I look forward to being there with you, alongside of you, for the rest of my career, and I will always value greatly that you chose to give this award to me. Thank you!"


August 1, 2017