Also, Mary Lou developed some questions to ask the service providers as we get to know them better for our research. For people who are actively researching mental health service providers in DuPage County, these questions might be helpful in their research as well. Some things to think about anyway.
We have also learned from the LWV board that we will be presenting to the membership in March, 2012.
Our next meeting is Wednesday May 18th. We are trying to formulate questions to ask the providers. We have decided to e-mail the questions to all group members by May 9. Also we will have a meeting this summer to talk to family members and people with mental illness in order to get their input on the type of questions they would like us to ask.
2.15.11 - Present: Chair Mary Lou Lowry, Lois Walter, Al Lowry, Ann Demong, Sonja Faulkner, Diana Nichol, Ginger Wheeler, our presenters from NAMI.
The struggles of people who live with mental illness became all too real as the group heard first hand from two NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) presenters through the NAMI speaker's bureau.
Both Bob and Sue (Names have been changed to protect our speakers' privacy) are functioning members of society and have not let the devastating effects of schizophrenia derail their hopes and dreams, nor prevent them from living as regular working taxpayers like everyone else.
Their hope is that by talking openly about their illnesses, others will see that with help from others, medication, and support, people with mental illness can live normal lives and be contributing members of society.
Both Sue and Bob experienced symptoms of schizophrenia that could have been extremely dangerous for themselves and others if not for intervention and hospitalization. Their stories were very similar but their recoveries were not.
Sue never lost her job, while Bob did. Having a job is a very important part of recovery, research shows. It makes sense that work provides routine, structure, social interaction and other benefits that would help one to recover from mental health problems.
Working also provides income and health insurance to help with the enormous costs of treating mental illness. Both Sue and Bob must have weekly meetings with their therapists and monthly meetings with their psychiatrists, not to mention pay for their medications. Without work, medicaid (ie taxpayers) must pay.
Research has show that Evidenced Based Practices regarding Supportive Employment is one of the most productive ways to assist those with mental illness to recovery. Sue had the benefit of this through her job in Chicago and she continues to be employed and symptom free, 11-years after hospitalization.
Bob, working with a job counselor in DuPage County, which does NOT use Evidenced Based Supportive Employment practices hasn't been able to land any job in over two years. He has said that he would take any job - cook, paralegal, grocery bagger - anything! But the county has been unable to place him in any type of work whatsoever.
So, medicaid keeps paying the bills. And Bob struggles to maintain a normal life.
We all know how difficult it is to maintain a healthy self-identity when you're unemployed, even when you're healthy. Imagine how hard it is when you've struggled with mental health issues! Bob's positive outlook, the support of his family and medical team, and his faith keep him going. But it would be so much better for him if he could find work.
Evidenced Based Supportive Employment practices are made up of 7 principals which Sue outlined for us. These include:
• Zero exclusion
• Job preference
• Support during job
• Disclosure of illness
• Benefit planning
• Integrated treatment team
• Rapid job search
These principals were developed by Bob Drake and Debbie Becker from Dartmouth. Here's a scholarly article about this evidenced based practice for further reading.
Another interesting side note that came up: Sue, who recently married, talked about how her new husband introduced her to the grown up pleasures of an occasional glass of red wine - just one or two glasses every few weeks with dinner. But this small amount of wine interfered with her medications, so she had to learn to just say no to any alcohol.
It's amazing to this writer to think about how brain chemistry works and how the medications, and even small amounts of alcohol, can effect people's behavior, thoughts, and actions.
If anyone wishes to join the study or attend the next meeting, feel free to contact Mary Lou Lowry. Our next meeting is 7:30pm, Tuesday April 12, 2011.
11.16.10 - Present: Chair Mary Lou Lowry, Lois Walter, Linda Hornbeeck, Ginger Wheeler, Julie Nolan, Al Lowry, Carol Scinto. Mary Lou presented information that she received from the County Health Department that was provided through FOIA - we all reviewed the information. We decided to compare how Illinois fares compared to other states. It was decided to look at NAMI's analysis of the states and pick a comparable county to DuPage in a well rated state to study.
Here is the link: http://www.nami.org/gtsTemplate.cfm?Section=Grading_the_States&lstid=676
We discussed the options that the mentally ill have in DuPage County. Right now, step 1 is to call the county crisis line. There are services and a few group homes, but long waiting lists. DuPage has close to 1 million residents. The county crisis line received almost 45,000 calls last year. The county Health Department employs under 300 people (mix of FT and PT).
Our Next meeting will be: Tuesday, 1.17.11. 7:30pm at Mary Lou's.
10.7.10 - Kick Off study meeting. Present: Chair Mary Lou Lowry, Lois Walter, Linda Hornbeeck, Ginger Wheeler, Sonja Faulkner, Carol Scinto, director of housing from NAMI. The goup decided that we need to better understand evidenced based practices so we promised to do some homework for our next meeting. Please see Links/Resources. It was determined that we need to find out the following: 1 - how the county mental health department is organized, 2 - who is in charge, 3 - how many people are served, 4 - how other counties do things, 5 - what is the budget, 6 - how is the budget distributed. We had more questions than answers.
Quote from Blueprint for Change book (See publications link):
W H Y M E A S U R E
O U T C O M E S ?
Measuring outcomes, first and foremost, is a way to ensure accountability.
Positive outcomes provide justification for continued services, which may help
programs sustain activities in difficult fiscal environments and/or when start-up
funding ends. Agencies also use outcome measures to evaluate their progress in
meeting strategic goals and objectives. Beyond these broader aims, some
specific reasons to measure outcomes of services for people who are homeless
include (HRSA BPHC, 1996): To demonstrate improvements in clients’ health
NAMI State Ranking Nami website ranking states on delivery of mental health services
SAMSHA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Registry of Evidenced Based Practices (Posted on the SAMSHA site)
State of Illinois, Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health
This site has good publications about evidenced based practices: SAMSHA Bookstore
Article by Tony Bond titled: Implementing Supported Employment as an Evidence-Based Practice
Powerpoint by Tony Zipple on Evidenced-Based practices