Thursday, December 06, 2007

LABELS & DNA

PROJECT DREAM AGAIN BLOG
HOMEPAGE
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{Being on this resource list does not imply their endorsement of this BLOG.}
www.mentalhealthministries.net
www.pathways2promise.org
www.faithnet.nami.org
www.annafoundation.org
www.mentalhealthchaplain.org
http://eminnews.org/index.htm

LABELS & DNA/ December 6, 2007
This is the last blog for this year. The next blog will come out on Thursday, January 3, 2008. Between now and then I have a week long seminar I am going to, two special family functions I will be attending, and the normal holiday season celebrations. Since I try to write something worth reading twice a week, I simply will not have time to do it justice and I don’t want to feel like I have done less than my best.
You may want to look at Project Dream Again’s web page since I hope to do more work on it during this time off from writing the blog or look back at some of the blogs at one of the sites listed below where they are archived.
I feel like the blog has been going well. I have heard from many folks and only a few have been in a negative vein. I wish all of you a wonderful Holiday Season!!!
I am alive and maybe even feeling a bit like a person. I am even looking forward to next year which isn’t bad for a person who usually spends November and December fighting depression and suicidal thoughts.
One reason is that I have a new concept for a drop-in center which I hope to work on getting started here in Burke County, NC next year. More about the concept later.
You know I could not end the year without touching on two of my pet peeves.
First, labels or what mental health professionals call a diagnosis. Over the years, I have had about all of the ones found in the “bible” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). At present they are using the DSM-IV-TR. The TR stands for text revision. DSM-V is not expected out until 2012.
Michael Craig Miller, M.D., editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, said this about DSM-V in NEWSWEEK, “DSM-V authors will approach their work with a generous attitude toward human nature, and will create a diagnostic system consistent with today’s scientific knowledge. They will offer it, not as the last word, but as a tool for testing hypotheses about mental suffering. After all good science is about getting it both right and wrong. And wisdom-with all due respect to the Greeks-is about appreciating how much we do not know.”
Consumers of mental health services and their families have been wise a long time. We know how much is still to be learned. We appreciate the advances, but we see the flaws and the lack of funds for services and fundamental research.
My second pet peeve is reductionism. One concept from reductionism was just blown out of the water. Again I am quoting from NEWSWEEK, “there is much more to our nature than the plans laid in the genetic code.”
Then just a little further in the article we read, “Biologists have known about methyl groups for decades, and since the 1990’s they have discovered several other types of chemical switches that can turn genes on and off. But only recently have they begun to understand that these switches are a crucial link between the DNA and the outside world. Their findings are now challenging some of science’s most basic assumptions about the way life works.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if someday they understood that we were bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings and that to understand us they will have to understand and treat the whole person? The first person I talked to this about was Dr. John Baggett then Executive Director of NAMI NC and later Director of North Carolina DMHDDSAS. He got it. Then later I had a chance to talk with Dr. Bill Anthony of Boston University. He got it. Why do so few get it? Because we train folks in specialties and do almost no cross training.
My prayer for the New Year is that more of my fellow sojourners will find someone who will see them. Really see them. See them as a person.

You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com

Monday, December 03, 2007

THE SYSTEM

PROJECT DREAM AGAIN BLOG
HOMEPAGE
www.projectdreamagain.com
{Being on this resource list does not imply their endorsement of this BLOG.}
www.mentalhealthministries.net
www.pathways2promise.org
www.faithnet.nami.org
www.annafoundation.org
www.mentalhealthchaplain.org
http://eminnews.org/index.htm

THE SYSTEM/ December 3, 2007
Families of persons with mental illnesses always live with the worry of what is going to happen to their family member when they are gone. That means how the public mental health system works is important to families. The question to be asked is how well is it working in North Carolina?
In May of this year I stopped my “ecological spiritual journey” on our farm in southeastern Kentucky and moved to the small town of Glen Alpine, North Carolina. I had moved to Kentucky from Broward County, Florida in March of 2004. I had spent from July 1991 to March 2004 in Broward County (2000 pop 1,623,018/2006 estimated pop 1,787,636) as a volunteer mental health consumer advocate. Before leaving North Carolina in 1991, I had done the same including being one of the folks that helped found the statewide consumer organization.
Upon my return to North Carolina I found a totally different playing field. Not just different players, but the rules of the game had been changed. Also, there was a big difference between trying to advocate North Carolina and in Florida.
If you go to a board meeting of the Mental Health Services of Catawba County which serves both Catawba and Burke (the county I live in) counties [combined 2006 estimated pop 243,838] the folks will not be handed any of the materials given out to the board members during the meeting. In Florida you would get copies because all the committees and boards I sat on understood we were dealing with public money.
I sent a package of information to Secretary Dempsey Benton of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and copied Michael Moseley, Director of the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. The package was about a service idea that had cut down on the use of hospital beds and crisis services. Neither one have even bothered to reply. Why do public officials in this state not explore cost saving ideas that have been proven in other states in a system many say are both broke and broken?
Do families members have something to worry about? I am both a consumer of mental health services and a family member and I say Yes, because not only is the system not working well the powers in charge are not listening well either. That is a dangerous combination.
An example The News Herald Sunday December 2 Morganton - For the past 34 years, those caught in the grips of alcohol and substance abuse have had a safe haven here in Burke County.
It appears that is coming to an end.
The Foothills Area Authority has announced it will close the Detox Crisis Center near Chesterfield.
Facility Director David Mazaleski said there is little hope the center can be saved.
Health care reform appears to be the killer, Mazaleski said. With the privatization of mental health care, a treatment facility that focuses on the homeless, indigent and non-insured is a financial liability.
Still, even with the stark reality of capitalism in healthcare, emotions run high about the center's closing.
"I wish this program could be saved," said Randy Thornton, executive director of the Burke Council on Alcoholism. "I don't understand this reform any more than anyone else.
"It seems they're more interested in the appearance of programs rather than the substance of what programs are really accomplishing."
"It saved my life," said one former detox client. "I hate to see that center close. It did a lot of good for a lot of people. My life has changed completely since I took that first step toward recovery."
"If I had not found this place and come here I know for a fact I'd be dead," a current client said.
Current staff and clients seemed to have one overriding question Friday; "Where will they go?"
"That's a good question," Mazaleski said. No other facility in the area treats the clientele Detox Crisis does, he said.

You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com