10 | 25 | 2014

Mental Health

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"We are committed to a future where recovery is the expected outcome and when mental illness can be prevented or cured. We envision a nation where everyone with a mental illness will have access to early detection and the effective treatment and supports essential to live, work, learn and participate fully in their community."

Vision Statement from the President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

The vision of the New Freedom Commission is shared by the staff of Human Service Center. The changes that are occurring in our conceptualization and treatment of serious mental illness may best be described by the following story:

The last Presidential Commission on Mental Health was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.  First Lady Rosalyn Carter was Honorary Chair of that Commission. Members of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission had dinner with Mrs. Carter. During this event, Mrs. Carter questioned “Do you know what the difference is now compared to our Commission of 30 years ago?” Many in the room thought she would talk about the closure of the massive state operated psychiatric hospitals. Instead, she simply stated, “We now know that recovery is possible."
 

Yes, for years, we as a society and as treatment providers did not believe in recovery and, worst yet, we expressed this disbelief to those we served. We told individuals and their families that serious mental illness was a progressive disorder. We told people they would not be able to work, to return to school or to care for a spouse and children. We robbed them of hope and created self-fulfilling despair. Today many persons with serious mental illness talk about being survivors, not of the illness, but of the mental health system that treated them.

Unfortunately, the above descriptions of the mental health system would describe the orientation of our own organization in the not too distant past. We sometimes have to take a brutally honest look at ourselves if we are to change and improve. That we have been doing. We now know that our first role is to instill hope. We know our role is to support individuals and assist them to develop the skills and resources to obtain their hopes and dreams. We continue to learn from the individuals we treat.

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