Community Mental Health

 

(More about the geezer above shortly!)

My doctorate was finished and then it was time to decide on a future direction. Again my intuitive personality took charge. I’d had enough of academia and wanted to go exploring. Of course I could do it in a university but I wanted to get out into the world.

And just at that moment the community mental health movement was opening. There was a deep division between state mental hospital systems and private or local helping systems. It sounded interesting to focus on the community.

Coming to Baltimore

The door that opened first was to a program in the inner city of Baltimore. I was met at the airport by Carl, a community organizer who knew his city well and I got a grand tour. It was endlessly fascinating and suggested challenge. My interview with the asian man who was the director of the program went well. We meshed viewpoints. I was also interviewed by the head of psychology who fell asleep almost at once. I sat quietly until he woke up and thanked him for a truly interesting interview.

Carl and the director had me and I signed up.

Truth Is Revealed

On the day I arrived to begin work I was taken to my office in what seemed like an empty suite. I was told I could begin to see patients. How that was to happen escaped me entirely. So I wandered around and found a black woman social worker by the name of Roz. We hit it off and she took me out to the streets to begin my work by visiting reality.

The Bottom line

This was the impoverished inner city of Baltimore and the education was immediate.

Shortly we had a young multiracial staff working to focus our efforts. While there was a general overview, it was apparent that local matters required a focus. Each community was different and there was one challenge after another. 

Reality

We learned quickly that the biggest challenge to mental health was poverty. In retrospect the operational word was DUH! Our efforts became often focused on job issues and fortunately there had been foresight in that each center had a vocational rehabilitation counselor. As a psychologist I was often involved in doing assessments.

It is obvious now but what we found was that having no job or a poorly paying one caused depression and anxiety. Not that there weren’t personal issues as outlined in a previous post but getting someone trained or educated with a decent job had huge “mental health” benefits.

Other Challenges

Nothing was simple. We didn’t simply counsel people. We had to face multitudes of issues personal and organizational. It was often necessary to be careful about referral to services  because we had to know what the services really were. What the brochure  said often didn’t reflect reality. And if the person was truly “mentally ill” we had to consider what the state hospital system really offered.

Another Bottom Line

But let me get to the deepest disappointment. Our young staff was committed and fighting for our people on the streets. Shortly we learned that the other big challenge was that the leadership in the university and the state systems had a whole different set of values. Winning a community mental health program and the funding was a feather in their cap. And they wanted to apply the funding to existing programs. Conflict was inevitable and some staff was not sent to work with us but were diverted to existing positions. 

It was clear that there was not a total commitment like the young staff had. What I learned in my twenties was the problem with older white men. Decades later I find the problem to be systemic and I have no more sympathy for their positions now than I did in my twenties. 

I find much of what they do self centered, representing entrenched interests and a narrow focus. And now we have a fight to wage to bring women to power, and to address ethnic and racial interests. Now that I am an older white man my commitment has not changed from very many years ago. In time we saw entrenched power bring an end to the vision of community mental health. Such a loss of a movement with terrific potential.

###

 Coming Soon

Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation: Life Forces Revealed

(Book 3 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

The child of prophesy is coming of age.

Earth has descended into almost biblical chaos.

        Then comes an opening to a future never anticipated.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1   (Click to See)

Avery’s life of dedication is enhanced when she meets the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was ordained.

      Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2   (Click to See)

The Tethyan people of the sea have been joined by the Andromeda warrior women. They fight for the future of humankind. Then will come the Child of Prophesy.

Available now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.

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