Recently, my favorite blogger, 1boringoldman.com did a post about four of NIMH”s mental health research grants that add up to $10 million. $250,000 each…. for what? It turns out they are basically me too studies or finding out answers that are irrelevant or already solved, or solutions harmful to us.
So here are some free mental health research ideas for these people to see whether or not they actually want to help us. These are ideas of programs that could help folks with mental health labels to move towards control of their own lives. All of these programs could generate very interesting mental health research articles that could huge differences for our people. As Wellness Wordworks has narrowed down our business focus, these are ideas we have put on the back burner or are important enough to share our research interests.
Also many of the existing mental health research does not help our people, so these are some different directions that might be useful.
11 mental health research ideas that WOULD help peers:
1. Peer support expansion research – Peer support implementation support: Get more mental health centers, hospitals, nonprofits, community employers, and primary care doctors to hire peer specialists, as these people could drastically cut their mental health provision costs. Peer supporters as champions in all businesses as an emotional concierge. Then the corporate office wouldn’t need to refer out for labels for people who have a hard time living in a cubicle farm. Or just do some mental health research to show what works and what doesn’t work about peer support. The National Association of State mental health program directors found in 2002 that peer support was the most effective service intervention, so maybe that’s what we should be studying? Hint, hint.
2. Medication optimization in mental health research – Lots of doctors know how to put people on medications, but few know how and when to help people come off them. Figure out how to reduce medication usage using shared decision making, knowledge of harm reduction techniques, and consumer input. Each mental health center could have a team for “medication optimization” to review people’s care whenever they talk about wanting to lower doses. Doctors that add and never subtract medications could be subject to penalties. It turns out that the doctors who violate good clinical practice tend to do it repeatedly, so watching those doctors could make a big difference. I’ll be working on a special edition for Frontiers in Psychiatry, so watch for this forthcoming call for mental health research articles.
3. CIT Supply Side – CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) is a program that helps cops to better handle folks with emotional crises. Peers can teach pharmaceutical chemistry to cops, increase consumer involvement in CIT training curriculum, Get more police on MH provider boards, resource cards for cops to talk about how to handle folks in emotional crisis.
4. CIT Demand Side – Distribute CIT information to people in hospitals, jails, and homeless shelters, education about how to call 911, Video of CIT testimonials. Currently all the CIT programs work only from the supply side, not the demand side. Most people don’t know they can request a CIT trained officer if their situation blows up.
5. Homeless phone friends – Sign people up to be contacts and mentors for homeless people. This idea came from The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, where he said that the homeless man became his friend. He said, “Look how much knowing this human has enriched my life.” We could find a phone company to give free phones to homeless people. Now a cell phone is more than ever a contact to the outside world and people usually do a pretty good job of taking care of their phones.
6. Chains of freedom – Peer support by bicycle. Social workers typically go out on the street in big vans that perpetuate a power imbalance. People helping by bicycle are much lower cost. The bicycles also make the person giving help more accessible, and the bicycle can go many more places than roads do.
7. Initial diagnosis with peers – Usually people say the moment they were given a mental health label is very impactful, usually in a negative way. A study could see if peers could improve outcomes when the initial diagnosis is delivered by saying something like, “The doctor says you have thus and so, but labels are always debatable, they’re really just for insurance companies, and not based on any kind of solid research evidence. Besides, I had this label myself and everything turned out fine, so don’t worry…”
8. Marketing of CMHC services – Write a grant to sell some of the community mental health center services that private care people can’t get. For instance, employment services, peer support, day programs, or case management to worried well with insurance or people who cash pay for services. In some ways, the public mental health care system is much more advanced than private care and people with insurance may not have access to higher level social workers. Sharing these services to a cash pay market could keep mental health centers afloat in tight budget times.
9. Diagnostic manual – The recovery movement could write their own label bible, with things like spiritual unrest, lack of exercise, not enough social connections, or poor job fit that actually ARE the root cause of many mental health labels. These diagnoses would then lead to a different plan of action or prognosis than typical disease model labels.
10. Merit based mental health funding – community mental health centers in a region or state could compete for funding based on their outcomes. Peer would need to have input into which outcomes are meaningful to us – like getting back to work or finding friends or having hope.
11. Homeless barter housing – You could cut the homelessness rate in half overnight by allowing formerly homeless people to let their friends stay with them. Most suppportive or subsidized housing programs are single occupancy only, but if building would allow extended visits by friends, you could cut the homelessness rate immediately for free.