- The celebration of strength, hope and mental health in the arts, music and writing.
THIS MAY THE ONLY AREA WHICH I CAN DIRECTLY INFLUENCE. To that end, LELA is beginning to hold events in the community. We want to have fun together and to bring mental health professionals into contact with school, church and government to talk about the tremendous gaps between the various highly effective systems in L.A. County.
- The day with mental health will be as common as yoga centers, dentists and Whole Food Stores, when mental health will be administered by those who have experienced the pain, rage, fear and confusion of traumas to the brain and to our emotional lives. We need greater connection between private mental health and public mental health so that the best of both can be shared. Part of that process must include single payor health insurance. We need evening and weekend DBT, CBT and trauma-based support groups for the community.
- Housing with Support. Small Board & Cares and apartment buildings with caring staff and access to community mental and medical health as well as education for those who may never recover to full capacity in the general public. Section 8 WORKS, and should be expanded exponentially.
RAP (Residential Action Plan) programs led by trained, educated peers who have been homeless themselves. RAPs must be an integral part of community housing development programs. RAP could begin in FSP and R-Cubed. Training and education are expensive. So are lawsuits against the police and bulldozing down homeless encampments.
- Voluntary, termed community residential treatment programs for those with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, GAD, PTSD, etc. These must be in conjunction with strong community mental health centers, and must only last one to four years with the one of two goals: 1) Placing students back into the community either in housing with support for those who are unable to function fully OR, 2) Sending students to college or to work, supported by strong community mental health centers. I am not afraid of the time-line here: I was in the system for 34 years, only recovered in 2013, and am finding it difficult to find work placement without work history or a degree. I am not afraid of the funding here: I believe it costs the state a great deal to maintain clients in holding pattern for fifteen to twenty years on social security with no hope of ever paying a single tax.
Employment is something I think LELA will have to guinea pig. I want to influence the employment, during treatment, of those suffering from chronic intermittent mental illness. A current employment rate statistic I heard recently was 4% employment of mentally ill persons within the community mental health system. Employment must be a developed, organized PROGRAM to encourage employment specialists to think more creatively and more pro-actively. This employment program must include basic grammar, math, art and computer skills. It should encourage crafts, work that can be done on a computer, work that can be shared in groups, shared transportation, and micro-financing options for small businesses. They are doing this program in India and Africa among the “uneducated.” Apple currently provides small departments within the corporation of people who think more creatively and less linearly. With greater funding and a greater pool of consumers (who are currently living on the street), community mental health centers can provide alternative employment options for the mentally ill.
- Respite Houses near hospital emergency rooms where people in crisis can be comforted and cared for rather than shuffled and dismissed. These could be adjuncts to barriers on bridges and yellow signs at the train station warning against suicide. These will only work in close connection to quality community mental health treatment programs.
Respite houses are “cooling off” spaces of one to four weeks for people in crisis. Currently, people are opting to jump off bridges and running in front of trains as an alternative to emergency rooms. Respite Houses can only be maintained by educated, trained peer advocates, because only peer advocates know what crisis feels like. Peer Respite Houses must be developed slowly and in conjunction with strong community mental health centers and housing with support. WE NEED MORE THAN MORE BEDS IN LA COUNTY!
- The end of the use of jails as mental hospitals
- Full national certification for peer advocates in California and the connection of a strong, independent peer advocate organization to other mental health organizations in the world.