Since sharing our conversation with Senate staff about the Healthy Transitions Initiative (HTI) funding we have received many emails expressing a variety of opinions about the process used for deciding whether or not to include HTI in the budget. There are a couple of key points to keep in mind as we move forward:
- "It ain't over till it's over." Nothing could be truer than this. For those who have said "Well, I guess there is nothing we can do" please reconsider that position. There is plenty you can do that is outlined here. Network faithful push till the bitter end!
- "What is past is past - let's move forward." Wringing our hands about whether language in the proposal was clear, why advocates weren't more involved on the front end with both Senate and SAMHSA staff is just plain wasted energy. If there is a silver lining (and there is) it is that this has served as an excellent reminder of a very simple concept we all need to take to heart. Government responds to constituents and makes decisions. If government doesn't hear from constituents they will still make decisions. This one is on us folks. Not the Senate subcommittee, not SAMHSA, but us. We learn from our miscues and get better. So let's get better, wadda ya say?
- "This issue is much bigger than just the HTI grants." I want to encourage youth-led organizations to pay special attention to this one. The trend towards focusing on the language of "mental illness" and pairing that with violence and guns in the speeches and rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC should trouble all of us. Typically accompanying such rhetoric is a call for evidence-based practices that focus on young adults with serious mental illness. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that. Our concern is that we may see a swing towards a narrower population of focus for funding opportunities and an increase in psychiatric hospitalization approaches. The popular press is doing a wonderful job of lumping this complicated issue all together so that suddenly anyone with a mental health challenge is a suspect for violence and therefore must be mentally ill. Read our earlier Morning Zen post on this issue for background and then reflect on what you are seeing talked about and proposed for funding now. The wonderfully resilient and healthy efforts taking place in communities focusing on transition-age youth with mental health challenges (not necessarily a serious mental illness) are just as important as those exponentially more expensive services that are absolutely necessary for a small percentage of youth.
President & CEO
Children’s Mental Health Network