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The Broken Link: The Community- Based Mental Health System



"The Broken Link: The Community-Based Mental Health System"


by

L.T. Force, Ph.D.

Gerontologist


"When is enough…..enough? "


I write Blog Posts on a weekly basis: “as a gift from me to me”.....as a form of writing and creativity. Typically, I don’t choose themes or topics that are nestled in with: pathology, mental illness, addictions or with themes of toxicity. A few years ago, I started working with a Life Coach, Vance Larson. I connected with Vance via LinkedIn (I highly recommend following Vance on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/vance-larson-cht-86499a48) - he truly is: “an Influencer” on social media platforms and in my own personal life. My connection with Vance helped me build routines and practices into the rhythm of my own day. One question that Vance has planted in my head - is his question: “What’s nonnegotiable in your life?” That question has provided me with guidance and action points in my day - including the writing of weekly Blogs.

But fast forward to now. This Blog Post has a different tone….one of frustration, dismay and anger. I have recently witnessed family members, friends and clients try to access community-based mental health services and programs. The common denominator in their efforts - is the presence of inaccessible program entry-points coupled with a fragmented continuum of case-management care services. It is disheartening to see this outcome. The negative toll on the person(s) (individual and family members) trying to access and advocate for these services is immeasurable. The irony is as: "a collective” we act as though we don’t see it. However, when something unpredictable, tragic or criminal happens….as:”a collective” we are the first to be in the front of the line watching TV News or reading the daily headlines asking: “what has gone wrong here and who is to blame....and saying why didn't someone try to do something in advance to help....or stop this?".


Who owns this problem of inaccessible and fragmented community-based mental health services and programs? We all own this problem. From legislative and governmental bodies to insurance companies to program developers, to policymakers, to funding agencies, to unaccountable clinicians and medical personnel - we all have our fingerprints on this problem.


Isn’t it a time for a “change of action….and not just a spewing of double-talk and a litany of finger pointing?. I think so….and I know many of you do as well. It’s time for a call to action! It's time for a call for accountability! It's time for a call - to build a system that is responsive to the needs of individuals and family needs who are attempting to access and secure community-based mental health services.


My friend and colleague, Andrew O’Grady, LCSW-R / Executive Director of Mental Health of America (MHA) / Dutchess County recently wrote an essay that clearly outlines the problems and potential creative solutions for Community-Based Mental Health Services and Programs. I recommend you read his essay and connect with him on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/andrew-o-grady-7923144b - you will be glad you did - he is a true advocate....and he gets it.


In summary, please know, there are many individuals and agencies within the community-based mental health system who have dedicated their professional lives, their passion, their creativity and their energy to be present for individuals and families addressing concerns of mental health - and they have made a vital difference ....and they have had a positive and powerful impact on those individuals and family members. But then there are the "Broken Links". The initial question: “When is enough…..enough?”

I think the answer is evident: “enough is enough now!”....with respect to accepting the behaviors and actions of the "Broken Links". Change is needed....and if we want "change"....then our voices and actions are needed….and needed now! If we want "change"….then we need to act like we want "change"! And how will that "change" look? It’s your choice of how that "change" will look. The outcome and services need not "be broken". It could be a: "seamless system" where all programs and services are "connected".... just like the "links are connected" found in the image above. However, helping to make that change.... requires the "efforts and voices" of all of us!

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