Michelle Barrett – Safety Nets My Mental Health Community Needs

Michelle Barrett is a social work grad student who has been encountering opposition for her story exploring the mental health civil rights movement. Her is her story about the penalties she’s faced for exploring the problems with our current mental health community building programs.

Her is her vision for a mental health community:  I am still trying to carve out a place where I can provide a service that meets the unmet needs of my mental health community.

Sybil Noble and her husband Jerry Armstrong founded the first mental health community run by peers in Kansas City.

Sybil Noble and her husband Jerry Armstrong founded Ark of Friends, the first mental health community run by peers in Kansas City.

I meet consistent opposition and naysayers. The oppression makes this even more challenging, but change is hard when you live in a mental health community that is supported by Medicaid. Ideas are entrenched, and any change can be met with suspicion and distrust.

My Mental Health Community Needs Peer-Run Safety Nets

My work allows me daily contact with people where I can keenly see the true needs of my mental health community. It has lead me to research and identify how to link services to fill in the gaps that have so far been overlooked.

I have two ideas for unmet services in my mental health community that are compatible. One is an acute respite house and the other a “clubhouse,” both a gathering place for different needs run by peers. Both offer safety nets, as a place to reconnect and stay connected.

The Peer Support Center

A “safety net” is my term to describe the need for an alternative option to gain stability and wellness, a safe place to increase opportunities to connect with others before the person drops lower into despair.

The idea is to help people who are feeling isolated because of the perceived stigma of mental health, a way back to connect to their community, a way to have fun, a warm accepting place to engage with others, because loneliness and isolation in ithemselves create despair.

The facility is like a “clubhouse”, an idea I saw being successfully utilized in San Diego, CA. The link below provides the premise. Then there is a link to an organization that spells out what they provide in there wellness center. I love the idea and I know it would be extremely beneficial and a positive influence in my mental health community.

Peer-Run Crisis Respite House

My other “safety net” is a peer run acute respite house. This would provide an alternative to the local hospital.

I have a friend who owns three assistive living homes that are not equipped to handle acute care of a resident with emotional volalility. The standard procedure is to call 911 where often there is no response. The local police department does not like to escort the person to the ER and sit with them until they receive medical care.

By providing care in a peer run residential respite home would alleviate the risk of non-treatment or inadequate treatment.

Sybil Nobel receving the Arts KC Volunteer of the Year Award and talking about peer support to 500 corporate sponsors

Sybil Nobel receving the Arts KC Volunteer of the Year Award and talking about peer support to 500 corporate sponsors

There is no one in my mental health community discussing recovery or peer run support.  NAMI is the leading voice, and they dictate pathology and maintenance with meds, with no opportunity to reintegrate.

I have found other communities with a progressive and successful treatment plan with goals towards wellness that I would love to implement here, in my mental health community. I need direction and support as to how to make this a reality.

Last September I came across a peer-run group in Virginia called Friends for Recovery http://www.friends4recovery.org/#!. They gave me a very cool assessment of needs, in questionnaire form, to gather additional information from people who derive and desire services.

It is a good starting point to directly survey people in my mental health community I want to provide peer-directed alternatives for.  She also gave me additional information how she funded her vision.  I still need additional guidance on the important topics on non-profits; building support and funding sources.

Here are some of the resources I found most helpful:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES about mental health communities:

News about the use of peer support centers: http://www.countynewscenter.com/news/mental-health-clubhouses-restoring-sense-self

A sample wellness program schedule: http://www.recoveryinnovations.org/rirrc/documents/WellnessCityDecemberSchedule2011_000.pdf

A new program opening in California: http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/01/second-story-respite-home-opens-in-santa-cruz-california/

A somewhat complete list of all peer support centers in the US: http://www.cdsdirectory.org/

A somewhat complete list of all crisis program in the US: http://www.power2u.org/peer-run-crisis-services.html

A somewhat complete list of all call in support lines in the US: http://www.warmline.org/

 What do you think we need to build mental health community?

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1 comment to Michelle Barrett – Safety Nets My Mental Health Community Needs

  • Celina

    I think we need normal families to be willing to help someone in a mental distress. Some people only need to feel part of a family.