Leadership Greater Manchester’s Business Shower: Makin’ it Happen

Working to help people "become part of the solution"
Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney (Courtesy photo)

Note from the editor: The Leadership Greater Manchester class of 2021 has launched a Business Shower initiative to help support and promote small businesses in the Greater Manchester area. Each month it nominates and votes for a business to shower with support. The next shower recipient is Makin’ it Happen. New Hampshire Magazine happily agreed to re-publish the piece and help spread the word about this fantastic New Hampshire business.

Follow along with all of the businesses Leadership Greater Manchester will showcase on Facebook. You can follow Makin’ it Happen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Say you heard about them through Business Showers and become part of the solution or join us for a fun evening of Manchester and Mental Health Trivia sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank.

Jackie Roy and KS LeBlanc spoke with Brian Mooney, MHA, community care manager at Makin’ it Happen.

Tell us about Makin’ it Happen.
Mooney: “Makin’ it Happen is a nonprofit organization that started 23 years ago with a Drug Free Communities grant to provide alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention to youth. The organization has evolved into building resiliency in youth, families and communities, focused on prevention and substance abuse disorder treatments and recovery in the region.”

How are you funded?
Mooney: “We have a blended stream of funding. We provide services directly to the city of Manchester, the state of New Hampshire and the region. Primarily, state, local and federal funding with some private donations.”

How did you join this organization?
Mooney: “I was executive director at Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, the state funding reduced, and the ED role was assumed by the president, so I started working with Makin’ it Happen about a year and half ago.”

What is success for MIH?
Mooney: “As an organization, we continue to gain support and additional grants to broaden the work we do. As a nonprofit organization, part of success is getting funding, and we get funded because we deliver on what we are being paid to do. Personally, doing work that is fulfilling and impactful to the community, especially for people who need help, and/or can’t help themselves — that is how I derive my success.”

Can Makin’ it Happen ever work itself out of the job it does?
Mooney: “No. I don’t think so because it’s endemic. Nine to 12% of the population suffer from addiction, and as long as there is addiction, we will have work to do. Today, only the worst cases get the help (about 10%) they need, and so many are going unsupported. When youth get involved with substances — cigarettes, vaping, marijuana — it is especially risky as their brains are still developing. The science now tells us that vulnerability to addiction as an adult increases dramatically if the person used when they were young.”

How can the community help to make things happen?
Mooney: “Spread awareness around the stigma of mental health and risks of substance abuse. Be informed and aware and be great adult examples. We have lots of great programming for kids — adults behaving badly can undo all of that. Kids know about everything; the internet is quick and available. It’s important for people to have these conversations and to be responsible. Lock up their prescriptions and alcohol.”

What is something that has unseated you or else rooted you most over the last year and half at Makin’ it Happen?
Mooney: “I’ve been unseated for sure. This year I was trying to get someone into treatment, and I walked the path with this person, through all the supports and systems they are supposed to go to and through, and he ran into barriers everywhere. The health care system doesn’t treat addiction as urgent until it’s very late. People see addiction as a choice and wonder why people chose it. I was doing outreach in the encampments, and I was approached by a women clearly at least seven months along in her pregnancy. She was in poor health, clearly suffering from substance abuse and high. People who refuse help because of addiction and people who need help and can’t get to it, this keeps me doing this work.”

You’re a classmate with Jackie and I in Greater Manchester Leadership 2021, how can our community leaders help?
Mooney: “We work with a concept of a Recovery Ready Workplace, in conjunction with the governor’s Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative. We deliver office training in stigma and substance use disorders; we look at the workplace policies to see if they equally support employee needs. For example, is the tolerance and support for an employee who needs to leave early to pick up a child from daycare or school or go to a doctor’s appointment the same as someone who needs to leave early for an AA meeting or counseling session? We look at the benefit structures to see that mental health is supported as well as their physical health. If we could have five or 10 business sign up for this, that would be a huge win.”

How has COVID-19 impacted your ability to be effective?
Mooney: “It has been more difficult because a lot of what we do is delivered in meetings, conferences and educational sessions. It’s a public-facing, human interactive thing. Our big pivot was late in March, we did a nine-week series called ‘I’m OK. Are you OK?’ and brought in lots of partners to talk about the effects of the pandemic. By the end of May, everyone was doing these online sessions and people were burnt out on virtual meetings, so we backed off. We’ve refocused on our digital presence, redid our website and our compass guide, (prevent, treat and recovery). We are still working on this and have brought on more staff to help us do this — this has been really good for us. It’s time for us to build to be ready to take on 2025 and not be trapped in 1990. That part has been a positive experience for the organization.”

How have you seen COVID-19 affect the community?
Mooney: “Covid is incendiary to the disease of addition. People in early recovery, those in get-well jobs — these people lost their jobs and many relapsed. Even people who were in what we’d call strong recovery have relapsed. Support systems like meetings and the online experience that wasn’t the same. We did get lots more attendance though because anyone who was curious could attend, and that helped some new people find help. Anyone towing the line in problematic use has found themselves in trouble because of the isolation. Being able to work from home isn’t a good thing for people who are hiding their use problems. And many people have needed medical treatment for detox, to get back to work, because they are in trouble and have huge waiting lists now. The acuity of people showing in up the ER is much higher because they are going longer and longer before they are forced to deal with it. Curbside delivery of alcohol, Door Dash, etc., these have led to even more isolation.”

What kind of people would be impactful to your work?
Mooney: “Parents, coaches, counselors, etc., people who can get involved in our drug take back program and other safety programs. People who can learn about building resiliency. We are trying to be supportive and handle people with care; you never know what people are dealing with directly or at home. Resiliency is so important because things can go wrong, but there is a way to get out of it.”

Categories: Health & Wellness