Hey Network faithful, listen up. Are you a family advocacy organization trying to mobilize your base around the flurry of activity at the state and national level about introducing legislation to improve mental health services after the tragedy at Sandy Hook? As faithful readers know, we have our concerns about stereotyping, or equating guns, violence and mental health issues as a package deal. But we think the Oregon Family Support Network is doing a good job of taking a proactive approach and "seizing on the moment." So if you live in Oregon, get in touch with Sandy Bumpus, Executive Director of the Oregon Family Support Network and ask her how you can be involved in helping promote state legislative efforts. If you do not live in Oregon, you might consider adapting the language below to efforts in your own state.
Here is the message from the Oregon Family Support Network:
- Dear Family/Youth Leaders and Children's Mental Health Advocates.
As you may be aware, Senator Peter Courtney is leading the call to significantly improve and strengthen investments toward prevention and early intervention in Oregon's mental health system. Here is a quote from his February 6, 2013 speech to the Legislative Assembly:
"It's game-changing time," Courtney told reporters. He said he's tired of all the talk about mental health, especially in the raging debate over gun control, and wants to see some action by state lawmakers.
"You want to do something? Let's do it," he said, his voice quavering at times.
Mental health issues cut a devastating and increasingly costly swath across society. The mass shooting in a Connecticut school by a disturbed young man seared the nation's psyche. But the problem goes deep into public life, from the hordes of homeless sleeping in doorways to the estimated 30 percent of Oregon prison inmates who suffer significant psychological disorders.
"I'm not just talking about stopping terrible tragedies," Courtney said. "I'm talking about someone who wants to be a good mother."
He said it would take $331 million over the next two years to fully pay for community health programs and serve the thousands of Oregonians who need care and don't receive it. He broke down the cost: $285 million for crisis services, case management, outpatient programs and housing for mentally ill adults; plus $46 million for programs that serve children and young adults.
- An opportunity has been extended to the children's mental health community, unprecedented from any other Legislative session. Now is the time to act! We need your stories right NOW! Having stories from youth and their families will help inform our Legislators to act on the recommendations being made by Senator Courtney. Here's how you can help:
- Write a story about your own experience - and share what things were like for your child and family before you were able to receive mental health treatment services. What were you or your child experiencing? (school failure, loss of friends, bullying in school, involvement in juvenile corrections, suicidal ideation, violent behaviors that were difficult to control). Then focus on what was different after services were introduced - (decrease in symptoms, increase in school attendance, increase in self esteem, able to reach goals in school, home or comunity) etc.
- Help families you are working with to share their story using the same criteria as above.
- Focus on specific services in your stories (i.e. wraparound, collaborative problem solving classes, peer supports, EASA.)
It is particularly important to provide stories across the rural communities of Oregon as well. If you live in or near a rural community, please send us your stories. Here are some other topics that are needing advocacy as well - through your stories. The messaging is 'mental health treatment works'. Please focus your story around what works:
- Peer Support Services (OFSN/Youth M.O.V.E. of Oregon)
- Parent Child Interaction Therapy
- Collaborative Problem Solving
- Need for Primary Care Physicians to have Oregon Psychiatric Access Line for Kids (OPAL-K)
- Need for trauma informed care
- Co-Occurring disorder treatment (addictions and mental health)
- Need to invest in mental health promotion prevention campaigns such as anti stigma need what are the realities of having a child with mental health needs and how the community responds.
Okay Network faithful, get busy!