Last year we posted some goals in an article on Mental health awareness and related TV programs.
In the Tucson area, improved conditions have caused us to revise the top issues list, so here it is.
Top Mental Illness Awareness areas for 2010:
1. Unlicensed group living homes improvements. Dealing with Group homes has improved this past year. This was a HUGE set of issues. Thanks to those out there that showed they care ! Most of adult mentally ill and rehab people live in this setting after release to the Tucson metro area.
2. CPSA Oversight progress, memos can be generated on request, to unlicensed group homes, etc.
3. Therapy, especially to develop ongoing goals. Therapy, even for court ordered patients is still optional ! Request it from case management.
4. NAMI Buddy program, get people involved. Any adult can volunteer to check on a buddy preferably at least weekly phone call and a monthly visit, to insure they are OK. Act to surface issues on their behalf to case management, or SAMHC crisis line.
5. Food boxes, clothing distribution. They do need help getting things, clothing is available through Casa Maria, and churches.
6. Free Dental options (UMC Dental School, free exams/xrays specials at local dental offices).
7. Safety at facilities, especially transitions during active psychoses, and for all court ordered treatment.
8. Using grievance processes available.
9. Thinking Big, mega group home concept development. Pool resources to be able to have full time staff, dr, nurse, 24 x 7 therapy. Prevents the problems that land mentally ill people into prison when psychotic. The meds need tweaking periodically, someone has to pay attention ! This would provide an alternative to the unlicensed group homes.
10. Cost effectiveness, adult mental health vs. prisons expansion – Funding of prisons is much more costly than funding housing and therapy programs. We need to help these human beings before they wind up in trouble. A man was found this week naked after killing a young police officer in Phoenix, we need to prevent this now !
11. Access to medical scheduling and rides assistance. Sometimes as simple as phone call to case management of psychiatric or medical providers/plans. They have case assistance available to help. A buddy just needs to do the initial call, and follow up.
12. Support for case management by friends or family to volunteer as power-of-attorney representatives, and get records access for reviews using a signed medical release form. Be able to act on the patients behalf, especially for emergencies !
13. Medical Living Wills to assure of pain management. Otherwise they suffer when they cannot communicate for themselves.
The 2009 List:
1. Funding of prisons is much more costly than funding housing and therapy programs. We need to help these human beings before they wind up in trouble.
2. Many more caring people are needed for these jobs: case managers, group home managers/couples/teams, drivers, doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.
3. The impact of new medicines is phenomenal, these allow patients to come back to reality, and avoid psychotic acts.
4. Doctors and nurses need to gain awareness of the importance of improving communications with those intimately familiar with the patients, especially family members. Sometimes these poor ones cannot speak for themselves, or are in denial.
5. The need to create care options for mentally ill persons with no family left to look after them.
6. Teachers must be better informed to identify early signs of mental illness, and to stop persecution and stigma.
7. Better understanding of the feelings of mentally ill people is needed. Anyone can send stigma/persecution reports to the Tucson NAMI office.
8. Advocates are needed for reform of the mental health system, especially problem facilities lacking best practices, especially those without policies and procedures.
Now that school is out, please volunteer ! For those that want to do door to door visitations, most local Catholic churches have Legion of Mary chapters that train and equip people to get out and meet those in need. Praying (auxiliary) members are also accepted.
We have noted college students at Mt Saint Mary’s University are volunteering this way, as well as students in other states, go get ’em guys !
– learning classes
– ask for suggestions.
– procedures for the homes to avoid food poisoning, periodic cleaning, inspections, house rules, how-to’s eg. get help