CINspirational People: Lisa Cousineau
Lisa Cousineau is a clinical service provider for Talbert House, a Cincinnati nonprofit that provides social services focusing on mental health, community corrections, substance use and welfare-to-work programs. Lisa is integrally involved in the organization’s LEAP, which cares for adults who have serious mental health issues.
“It is reassuring to know that I have an outlet for teaching and helping to shape others lives. To watch previously socially isolated clients blossom because they are now interacting with others is a blessing I get to experience every day,” she told me.
Lisa Desatnik: What is your greatest fulfillment from this job?
Lisa Cousineau: There is never a day I go home where I think that “nothing I do makes a difference”. Every minute here someone is changing for the better. Most of our clients are completely socially isolated – LEAP is their only chance to interact with others, or feel a part of a family. Staff facilitate the client’s bonding with each other, which leads to increased self esteem and a purpose for each of them.
Lisa Desatnik: What message would you like to share to others about mental illness?
Lisa Cousineau: Mental illness is so diverse with such a varied range of diagnoses. I have learned that medication and therapy are important, but many issues can dissipate by being able to be a friend and have a friend in other group members. We use the term “mental health” in our program much more than illness and address the basic need for companionship, which does wonders for their mental health. We are fortunate to live in Hamilton County, where the Board and voters realize the importance of programs like ours.
Lisa Desatnik: Please tell us about someone who taught you life lessons.
Lisa Cousineau: Growing up, I had a fascination with Anne Frank. I must have read that diary at least ten times throughout grade school. I kept journals and diaries, and rewrote stories myself constantly. I loved writing, and thought that would be my career, so I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University. After finally getting to Amsterdam this fall, and being in her secret home, I now realize my fascination with Anne Frank had less to do with writing and more about her incredible mental strength. How was she able to endure those two years in secret? It is something we see every day at LEAP- the simple routine things most take for granted mean the world to a client who is feeling no purpose. One of my favorite quotes from her is “Whoever is happy will make others happy too”. I guess that is why LEAP works – it definitely is a happy place.