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.

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 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.

Entering the Real World

 

Opening Exploration

We don’t really have a collective ideology as much as we would like to believe it. We stand up for America the Beautiful but there are many places within America where it is not so beautiful. It may be found in poverty, racist strongholds and corporate greed among many. But let’s proceed from the place of ideological conflict and the fact of blessing and curse.

A Lesson

Naively we may enter adult life believing we have a firm ideological path. If our eyes remain open we find that the landscape is blurred. An attractive ideology may be undercut by the real orientation of an individual or a group. 

Deep in the inner city poverty of Baltimore my eyes were opened. Among others there were people who were naive and well intentioned, people who claimed liberal orientation but were thieves and conservatives who were dedicated only to self interest.

As such a scene opens it is essential to evaluate it and learn rather than walk away. That is our real world at all levels and it must be mastered throughout life.

The Lesson of Children

Let me turn a page with an illustration. Many people have children expecting that a “little me” will arrive. In a sense they are all little mes but the biggest lesson is that your child or children will simply be who arrives at your home. They must be loved, tended and guided. And from that experience the richness of your life evolves. In some ways your work life is no different. Take what comes, assess, shape and learn.

Conservative Versus Progressive

The view I came away with is that these opposed positions and ideologies are essential. A sound conservative preserving essential values is to be valued. And in the world at large there is inevitable change which currently is rapidly accelerating. That means that progressives cannot seize the moment such as it is and race forward without balance or decision. 

That is where the conservative comes in. When we come together and negotiate we bring together a functional future. 

Our Current World

But now my view is that true conservatives seem to have been forced into hiding. The people who call themselves conservatives now do not strike me as bringing firm and productive values. There has been a revolution in which corruption has taken hold along with a narrow, unproductive view of the world.

We have lost the valuable negotiations of the past and badly need them back. We need our devoted conservative sisters and brothers back. The field of the future is strewn with barriers and misapprehensions. We must see the potential and that we have to restore our ability to negotiate and balance. The future is rushing at us and I firmly believe that the transformation on the horizon can be devastating or utterly fulfilling. Much more later.

 

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.Coming Soon

The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became 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 to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Studying Our Future

 

Being Taken Back

This past weekend has highlighted essential problems in our country. But what happened does not stand alone. Yes, we have a racist president who is fomenting hatred and discord.

But there is a larger context. I have been choking back tears the last few days. I am buffeted by conflicted feelings. I find myself reeling back to the 1960s when there was deep conflict and commitment to change and reform. At that time I was working on the impoverished streets of inner city Baltimore.

A Difficult Reality

I had just finished my studies at Duke University and was still deeply troubled by the entrenched racism I had experienced in North Carolina. This privileged young white man had, for the first time, experienced personally directed racism because he was a “Yankee”. My impression of entrenched problems has been enduring.

When I went to Baltimore I have to say I was an innocent. The idea of bringing mental health services to those people was alluring. And then came the reality of poverty and the meaning of life on those streets. 

On The Streets

Not everyone came to an office for help. We went out to their homes frequently. When I went to a building I learned that the facade told me little but I could know something about what things were like inside by the condition of the front door. At times I also went to the high rises. Often the elevators weren’t working so I would stop at the base of the stairs look, study, sniff and listen for clues about activities in the stairwell. 

Fortunately I had some good people around me to offer guidance and advice. And often they were women and together we fought the entrenched special interests of older white men who had little commitment to our mission but were committed to their own privilege and aggrandizement. The commonality of what is happening in our country now is stunning me. In that focused sense nothing has changed.

A Danger Point

I also must say from my decades long perspective that I see us at a serious danger point. It can be focused nationally but also at the world level. Suddenly after this last weekend we are gaining clarity about special challenge in America. Will we respond or will racism and corruption continue to rule? 

I didn’t realize it at the time but fundamental themes I have experienced in life directed my fiction writing in the Gaia’s Majesty Series. As I’ve said before, empowerment of women was central but so too was the corrupt rule of older white men. And now that I am an older white man, my commitment to our future and overcoming detriments to our future has not abated.

Transformation and Challenge

The third book in the series is called Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation and transformation is the key word I am looking at in our present crises. We can descend into decades of war and utter destruction as we have before or we can rise up with renewed commitment such as we saw in the 1960s. Now that men can ally themselves with women in a committed alliance we have the chance to have an important transformation which will benefit not just America but the world. Our leadership in the world is being sabotaged and it is essential that we take it back.

Are we up to the challenge? Will we seize the promise of our future?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became 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 to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Work Universe 2

A Call to End Passivity and Obstruction  

Facing Facts

Human society is facing accelerating change and it seems we are in total denial. We are acting as if the job market and its requirements are fixed. In the United States we say we have a low unemployment rate but other data indicates 10% of our people have simply given up on the job market. We hear that coal jobs are going away and some people are saying we must save something that cannot be saved. We have to face the reality of climate change and must change how we generate energy. The lis of other demands is very long.

It should not be outside human consciousness to consider doing research and planning. That means researching how our technology of all kinds is changing and how that affects the kinds of jobs that will disappear and what new ones will be needed.The job picture is changing and we have only a limited idea of how it is changing and what jobs will be required. If the research is ongoing, we hear so little that it is almost as if it is secret. And then there is the matter of our not knowing who is available in the workforce and how we can use them. More on that shortly and it is much more complicated than ordinarily assumed.

An Unexpected Partnership 

Decades ago I took a job I thought was only focused on mental health, but it had a component I did not know existed. The job was in the inner city of Baltimore and the people there were largely impoverished. I learned that each of our centers had a vocational rehabilitation counselor. And since I was the only psychologist who actually worked out in the community, they called upon me to do evaluations on the people needing assistance.

Vocational Rehabilitation was a generic term because many of these people had never had meaningful gainful employment. We learned at once that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. It generated anxiety and depression. We had a lot to learn-and fast.

What was needed was an evaluation and construction of a plan for each person. I became a collaborator with the counselor. We shared our expertise and developed plans.

The Process

I had been trained to do testing and evaluation but it was generally focused for clinical (mental health) purposes. I screened for brain damage, got a conflict and personality picture and gave an intelligence test. I had used it previously for mental health purposes. Now It was folded into working on job issues.

Along with the counselor, I had to focus on the jobs market and the skill sets or lack thereof of the people who were coming to us for help. I sat down with the counselor and we talked about his view of the client and he gave me a view of the job availability climate. That, in itself was challenging. We had to get an expanded picture because jobs in the inner city were limited. A whole new set of problems were opening before me.

The Bottom Line

I had taken a job that I thought would revolutionize the delivery of mental health service. What I had found was a whole new world where it was clear the focus had to be on a larger world. And, even more importantly, the professionals involved had to expand their horizons, and fast. We are still waiting.

560 words

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became 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 to be revealed before them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge