Sylvia Turns Seventy

Sunday, October 04, 2015



I was so focused on not creating extravagant attention to an annual event that even Facebook didn't tell you that I turned 80 yesterday. Family and close friends respected my wish for no gifts and a low key acknowledgment. (I did get emails from Canadian Pharmacies, Medicare, and FlyerTalk.) But in so stressing no big parties, no big focus, no surprises, NPR's pledge drive today helped me realize that I didn't think about what I would like. As a way to mark the day, I'd appreciate donations to build up the MHCAN reserve account. I recently joined the board, and one aim is to strengthen our financial stability by building the reserve account up to $60,000. Then, when government is late in paying for our contracted services, we still comfortably pay bills and meet payroll. (NB: page has sound accompaniment.) Scroll down to donate link – PayPal or Credit Card.

Saturday, October 23, 2010



On Oct 3 my son made waffles for us – him, his wife, his daughter, my daughter and me.

Looking back from 75 to 70, these last five years have been a withdrawing, wrapping up advocacy, exploring unstructured time.

With intention, I slowly wound down my mental health and disability work, stopped following some lists and websites, tried to be reflective, to say no to further involvement. I made three ego-driven mistakes, twice involving myself in local mental health activities, once agreeing to present People Who at a State Department outreach meeting. I watched my expectations and anger and anxiety and disappointment.

I have hoarded airline reward miles, enough for two major trips, and airline and airport crowding and packing rules and pat downs have become inhibitors. I still sit on my pile of miles.

I was afraid of unstructured time, a blank appointment book, and have learned how quickly a day fills up when there is time to fill it, nooks and crannies cleaned, neighbors visited, phone chats, using the internet to follow up on words and ideas I didn't know about, … I have been startled at how fast tea dates and lunches out add to expenses, and amazed at how having nothing to do fills the days.

I have done lots of straightening, puttering at home, discarding and discarding more, most recently most of my hard copy advocacy materials. I've been reading, watching a lot of television (C-Span and soaps), have, most astounding to me, three new friends, and a comrade in my next door neighbor.

I have spent attention and time getting ready to die – making sure paperwork, wishes, and options for assistance are all in place, now is my time for separation and closure, for learning the art of dying well.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I received the APHA 2006 Mental Health Section Award

Here's my acceptance:

I appreciate the recognition that this award conveys and it’s especially nice to receive it here in Boston, where I spent the first half of my life.

It’s been hard to interest consumers in this work and I’m glad to see that the section keeps trying.

I felt respected and included here and more than a diagnosis. Through you, and our work, I learned about a perspective that goes beyond individuals to look at population health.

Today most attention is directed downstream at treatment and rehabilitation. But rescue medicine is not enough. We can use primary prevention to reduce the number of people upstream, the number coming into the system and wanting services. Healthy lifestyles in healthy
communities can reduce the impact of risk factors and create local peer support.

You know this.

I’d like to use this chance to focus on a foundation of health, ... to wonder out loud when hitting one’s partner or having sex with one’s kids became an American tradition, a behavior to not be questioned until it is glaring. I think the mission of this section could be to start with social violence, to end the permission to mistreat each other, just as long as it’s at home.

Studies consistently confirm a very high rate of sexual and physical
abuse among persons who later get diagnosed with mental illness. If this kind of trauma were reduced, I anticipate a significant parallel reduction in the rates of suicide attempts, psychological distress, and long-term trauma based illness.

An aspirational value of public health must be the opportunity for each person to have a safe and valued place in order to achieve their own promise.

Thank you

And here's a handout I prepared for the 'new paternalism - caring coercion':

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I received the Mental Health America Beers award

At it's annual meeting, NMHA (rebranding to Mental Health America) awarded me the Clifford Beers Award.

I put the core of the application and a draft of my acceptance remarks online here

The program reads

"Legendary mental health advocate Sylvia Caras, PhD, is this year's winner of
NMHA's most prestigious award for her work to improve the rights of
mental health consumers through outspoken advocacy and by sharing her
own experiences. Her pioneering efforts as the founder of People Who has
spread the meaning of "nothing about us without us" across the
the movement, and have empowered mental health consumers
nationally and internationally."

Here's the NMHA press release:

Saturday, October 15, 2005



There have been three spam comments to Zoe's first message; I've deleted them. I've closed the first message to new comments and of course it is still available to read. If people would still like to post here with more wishes and connections, this thread is open.

Sylvia, 70 plus 12 days, and feeling cherished

Monday, August 15, 2005


Sylvia Caras, my grandmother, will be 70 on October 3, 2005

Sylvia, my grandmother, will be turning 70 this October and we have decided to assemble a journal of all the wonderful times Sylvia has shared with her friends and family. This record will tell those who haven't been born into the Caras family yet what my loving grandmother was like.

Tell us how you know my grandmother and tell us a story about you and her together which will enable me to picture her personality and her work.

Just below this note, there is a line that shows how many comments have been left by others. Click on it to read them and to leave your own.

When you do that, there is a box that says, “Leave your comment” and underneath it “Choose an identity”. Select “Other” and then you will be able to post under your own name. If you select "Anonymous" please add your name at the end of the message.
To see some fun images from Sylvia’s life, click on this link
and then use your own browser's "back" to come back and leave a message.

A sincere thanks from,
The Caras family

Cards and Flowers


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