About Amber Mackay

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So far Amber Mackay has created 3 blog entries.

My Journey to Obtain Mental Well-being and Independence

By: Reece Gatliff

My journey to obtain mental well-being and independence has been a long one, full of twists-and-turns, numerous setbacks and triumphs, and mighty struggles. This journey would, over time, take me to Alliance House, to a better life.

A year ago I was a wreck. Staying at an extended-stay hotel, away from home, I chose to go into residential treatment in Salt Lake City (SLC); the treatment program I chose was slated to last a year or more. I had a choice to only stay a month in a hospital in Ohio, but I chose the harder option because I knew that what is hard is oftentimes the good in life.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was the reason for going into treatment, extreme and very baffling OCD. Many a time while staying in residential treatment OCD thoughts cropped up and made it difficult to persevere. Trying, trying, always trying I failed again and again but kept on trying to beat the OCD; my initial attempts to beat it failed.

In October, having been in residential treatment since May 20th 2016, I briefly went to wilderness therapy in southern Utah. Sometimes, I wonder if it was for the best but the whole truth is wilderness gave me some of my worst life experiences and also some of my most wonderful ones. I furthermore figured out just how to win against it after a good long fight, leaving wilderness therapy in mid-November.

After a few hiccups and, after going out one of one residential treatment center to another, I was finally able to triumph over OCD. I applied to college and moved out of treatment into an apartment. This is the part of my story where Alliance House came into play. After a long while, I started attending Alliance House regularly, getting to know some great members and staff. I recently acquired a Transitional Employment (TE) opportunity at Wasatch Brewery.

Alliance House gives my life purpose. I love volunteering my time, always feeling both welcomed and useful. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine I’d be living independently in SLC. Nor could I imagine making something of myself as a writer, son, brother, and friend. I am hopeful for the future.

By |2017-12-29T18:06:05+00:00June 13th, 2017|Member Stories|Comments Off on My Journey to Obtain Mental Well-being and Independence

USA National Clubhouse Conference


By: Richard Lovato and Terry Harrison

Two staff and one member recently attended the USA National Clubhouse Conference held in Arlington VA just across from Washington D.C.. Leif Oldert (Alliance House Executive Director), Terry Harrison (Staff of Alliance House) and Richard Lovato (Alliance House Member) all attended this training from September 18th-20th 2016.

Richard and Terry were asked to assist with presentation of two workshops at this conference; one on Transitional Employment and one on Supported Education. Our focus for the Transitional Employment presentation was on partnering with the greater community and on drawing from a wide variety of employment opportunities within the clubhouse area community. This is important to ensure members have access to as many employment positions as possible. We also shared the importance of Transitional Employment being a stepping stone to future employment both supported and independent.

Our presentation on Supported Education focused on the importance of following International Clubhouse Standard 25 which states “The Clubhouse assist members to further their vocational and educational goals, by helping them take advantage of opportunities in the community.” We emphasized the importance that education within the Clubhouse is not to create classes per se; it is to facilitate a connection between members and outside vocational and educational resources.

It was an awesome experience for us to attend and participate in. We were fortunate to also attend other workshops and learn from other clubhouse representatives of ways for our own Clubhouse to assist members with greater opportunities for their personal growth.  We attended one on assisting members to become more self-sufficient and to work towards independence from the benefits cycle. It was impressive to explore these options more fully understanding that there are those who are in need of governmental benefits. In the opening Plenary we heard from Governor Paul LePage Governor of Maine who is a great advocate and participant with the Transitional Employment Program within Clubhouse,  his community and state. He stressed that we need to reach out and work with our own legislators in our states to increase understanding and opportunity. Governor LePage stressed “Legislators work for us, we do not for them.”

We want to thank Alliance House and the International Clubhouse Community for the support and opportunity to attend and participate is such a wonderful event.


By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00November 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on USA National Clubhouse Conference

Overcoming Mental Illness/Stigma {Video}

 Overcoming Mental Illness Stigma video

By: Divey -Alliance House Member

In my Health Education class on Thursday nights we participate in Book Club discussion groups.  My partners Bata and Bracken asked me on October 27, 2016 if I would be willing to help them with a project.  They have another Health Education class together in which extra credit is being offered for class members who submit a video for the Healthi4U contest.  I volunteered to help.

We went to another room to videotape the video.  I asked them what topic they wanted to talk about.  They looked at each other confusedly and then asked me, “Do you have any topic you are passionate about?”  I smiled BIG.

Without a script and after already attending 2 classes that day I sat down and smiled at the camera.  I talked about the stereotypical preconceived ideas many people have about persons diagnosed with a mental illness. I explained about how the Alliance House is different from other rehabilitation methods.  I told how people experiencing mental illnesses that have been out in the community have skills that they can use to contribute to society.  We can rebuild old and develop new skills.  By being able to share these skills in society those affected by mental illness can contribute to society and require less support from their community and family.  I closed with, “I have returned to the University of Utah.  I contribute to society. I have mental illness, but it does not have me.”

 Competition Overview

Healthi4U is an annual competitive program for interdisciplinary teams of students at the University of Utah to create short health-related videos. This competition is generously funded by the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation and is coordinated by the Healthi4U student leaders, Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, and a team of university faculty.

The goal of this video competition is to create engaging and informative videos related to health! We are interested in the messaging of the videos for patients, their families, and the health care professionals who care for them. The competition is open to all full-time, matriculated University of Utah undergraduate and graduate students.

Video Specifics

  • Create an original 2-3 minute video on a health topic of their choice.
    • The videos may be either live action or animation.
  • The video must be filmed by the team and be all original content.
  • Teams may use public domain and/or royalty free music; however, it must be cited and used appropriately as specified in the Terms & Conditions.
  • Absolutely no copyrighted materials may be used in the videos. This includes music, images downloaded from the internet, stock video, etc. that is not explicitly royalty-free and available for redistribution.

A competition lead screen will be added to videos before posting them on YouTube. If you are proficient with editing, please add the lead screen to the beginning of your video for five seconds. If you do not include the lead screen, please include your project name and team member names in the submission.

Judging & Awards


Judging will take place online November 10-14. Videos will be made available during this time on YouTube.Videos will be judged on four criteria based on this rubric for a total of 50 points:

Messaging: impact, applicability, accuracy, content expertise, evidence-based, clarity, relevance   35 points

  1. Creativity: appeal, novelty, innovation, imaginative   10 points
  2. Production quality: production value, cinematography, sound quality, editing   5 points

Total: 50 points

Bonus points: 5 points for multidisciplinary teams (e.g., are members represented from different departments and colleges)

The People’s Choice Award will be awarded to the video with the most YouTube “likes.” Teams are encouraged to share their videos with friends and family to solicit votes. (YouTube “dislikes” will have no effect on judging.) 


Monetary awards will be given for:

  • 1stPlace – $3000
  • 2ndPlace – $1000
  • 3rdPlace – $500
  • People’s Choice – $500
  • Best Foreign Language Video – $1000

Winners will be announced and awards distributed during the Capstone award event. At least one team member needs to be present at the Capstone event to receive the team award.

University of Utah matriculated students (any students enrolled in a degree-granting program) are eligible to participate. Students may elect to receive the award as either a scholarship or non-scholarship award. All awards will be reported to the University Scholarship Office and will count toward a student’s Cost of Attendance limitation. The University Scholarship Office will deposit scholarship awards in the recipients’ University accounts on January 6, 2016. Students with available credit who do not wish to apply the credit toward future tuition may request payment by check. Questions regarding eligibility and award payment should be directed to the Scholarship Office. Scholarship awards for domestic students are generally considered to be non-taxable income when used for tuition, books or supplies for classes. Domestic students should review IRS publication 970. Some foreign students may be subject to withholding taxes. Non-scholarship awards have fewer restrictions, but are more likely to be taxable. All award recipients are encouraged to contact University Tax Services for assistance- http://fbs.admin.utah.edu/tax-services/ (Links to an external site.).

By |2017-06-05T03:19:31+00:00November 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Overcoming Mental Illness/Stigma {Video}