Looking For Transformation

 

In this current era when we seem on the verge of transformation I’m going to do posts about my experience with the reform movement called community mental health long ago. I address even great details in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Toward the Future

It was 1967 and I was finishing up my doctorate at Duke University. It was time to leave academia, get out into the “real world” and embrace a component of the reform movement following World War II.

One of the first programs of the Community Mental Health movement was beginning to hire in Baltimore. I went to take a look and was picked up at the airport by Carl Thistel, the lead community organizer. He took me on a whirlwind engaging tour of the city regaling me with the impact of poverty and drugs. I was interviewed by the engaging, enthusiastic director and the somnolent head psychologist who fell asleep while he was interviewing me. No matter. Carl had hooked me.

Plans Versus Reality

The movement had a compelling outline of its expected services and its rationale was engaging. We had the best of intentions but then there was reality. It wasn’t long before we learned that the mental health people in the State of Maryland didn’t really care and neither did the University which was managing the grant. They wanted the status and the money and to continue their business as usual.

In Opposition

On our side we had a bunch of enthusiastic, rebellious twenty somethings who included women dedicated to the Women’s Liberation movement, It was going to get very interesting.

It turned out no one really knew how to deliver services to impoverished inner city residents. The rationale sounded good but we had to figure out how to deal with reality. We devoted ourselves to the needs of these people we were to serve and had to figure out what they really needed and how we could deliver it – over the opposition of the State and the University personnel especially on the part of the older white men.

Likelong Commitment and Reservations

So, in my twenties I committed to supporting women’s liberation and harbored deep reservations about older white men even though now I are one.

In coming posts I’ll cover key elements as we hit the streets, climbed through dangerous high rise buildings and fought for what was needed. I’m also going to address the current crisis in the world and the transformation alternatives that may be coming.

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt, Ph.D.

Available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

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Echoes From The Past

 

Life’s Promise

Somehow we have a dream that a stable and glorious future will open before us. It is unlikely. Our lives are not ours alone because we share it with family and intimates, but also must share it with the world at large which is not under our control. But the past has a way of reaching out to us which is not necessarily a bad thing. It may tell us about how the world is and such things as the variability of opportunity. 

From My Past

In 1967 (yikes that’s a long time ago) I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore. I was one of the first people hired in one of the first community mental health programs in the country. I was just leaving Duke with my doctorate in hand and I was definitely ready to depart academia. The whole idea of community mental health was to bring mental health services to the public using a public health model. It was a marvelous idea.

Wait a Minute!

But there was not just one problem. Communities are different, and because of that the whole idea of applying the medical model to our inner lives was flawed and established practice is not so easily changed.

I was given an office and told to give service. But there was no one there except for a woman social worker. She led me out into the city and steadily the staff grew. Young professionals learned about the community and what it needed. It was tumultuous and fascinating.

Wait Another Minute!

But in some ways the least of our problem was adapting services to a poverty environment in chaos. An even larger problem proved to be the conservatism of the mental health establishment. All they wanted was the grant money and the glory of having landed funding for a “glamorous” enterprise. They had been providing services by psychiatric residents and medical students on six week rotations. We dug in our heels. The people of that community needed reliable ongoing services, not a series of inexperienced people passing out medication. Granted, our group of twenty somethings were inexperienced, but we were dedicated as a group to learning fast and meeting real needs. 

What We Concluded

What we found was a need for life management  in a form of partnership. Many “mental health” problems were an outgrowth of the dynamics of the poverty environment more than anything else. Of course, it was much more complicated than that but that is a rough outline. But we had found that a highly beneficial set of services and programs could have been focused.

In the End

At last though, those in power are in power after all. In time the bright eyed, groundbreaking young people moved on and the higher powers invoked a retrenchment. The community based clinics were closed, staff was withdrawn to a central building and business as usual restored.

Across the country the reform movement of that era was coming to an end.  And with its end came the end of community mental health. I tell the whole story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

Now the Lesson

Yes, community mental health came too soon and its time is still not yet at least until we get through our present upheaval when a younger generation with vision may take power.

But, looking back we can see something. On the street we learned a huge amount about such communities, but all the data was kept in our heads and used to formulate a highly focused, problem solving service system. If a system with managers of more vision were to be devised now, the information technology at our fingertips could help us sift, store, integrate and develop data for a viable system. And it could be adapted to fit the community at hand—whatever its form. Then we would truly have a community mental health system, but probably with a more refined name. And if we had had information technology we could have documented and built.

Coming back to one of my original points, I can see that something from the past can be brought forward to a much more adapted use at a future time when new tools and vision are available.

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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

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

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.

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

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

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. 

The Coming of Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise

On April 29th. the second book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy will be launched on Amazon.

 

Little Did I Know

Two primary elements fed the creation of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. In college I took classes from Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. That elderly man took the stage and completely enraptured a large room full of college students. I was mesmerized as he linked our view of the world, creative understanding and cultural flow together. 

His view led me to be particularly intrigued by such things as mermaids. Do they really exist and, if not, why do we create the images and seem to believe in them? Something is stirring in us and the images are open for our projection of their meaning.

Years later I felt the need to bring mermaids to life.

The other element, which is central, is about empowered women. When I graduated from Duke University with my doctorate I took a job in the dawning community mental health movement. Suddenly there I was in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore. The man who hired me was Japanese-American and our multiracial staff served both black and white people in desperate lives of poverty. 

What was also different in my life was the women working in the program. It was the opening era of the Women’s Liberation Movement and they were definitely on board. The setting and the people opened my life in ways I could not have expected.

Effects That Would Not Be Stilled

The experience in Baltimore reframed my life and stayed with me. And for a reason or reasons I could not define, I found decades later a story was stirring. And so came strong dedicated mermaids. But they didn’t just show up to swim around in the sea. They had a purpose and that purpose had to do with a beautiful planet and the future of that planet and its inhabitants.

A World of Growing Crisis

I think part of what happened was that one age was ending and another opening. For a time threat appeared to have declined and the new age seemed more peaceful and promising. But that was not to endure. 

I thought I was writing a book but soon it became apparent that there was more than one book. Now there is a trilogy and perhaps more.

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

The first book proved to be a place to introduce a larger cast of characters than I had expected and set the scene. At the center was an innocent woman who had a heritage she knew nothing about. And also what was opening was the revelation of an Earth Goddess (Gaia) who was determined that her planet would not be decimated. 

The people Gaia reserved to save the future were called Tethyans and serving with them were a dedicated class of warrior women called the Andromeda. The most immediate threat was the men called the Overlords who were devoted to self aggrandizement and greed. Does that sound familiar? But I created them in the books before our most recent events.

The Dawning

The second book leads us into the depths of conflict. The deception of central greedy characters is clear and what is being revealed goes beyond a simple response to crisis. Something fundamental is happening and there is a totally unexpected future becoming apparent. Come join in. It’s an intriguing ride of both reality and myth. I refer to the books as works of Magical Realism.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Tragedy of Older White Men

 

Roger B. Burt

Facing the Future

Yes, that’s a picture of me at the top. I’m an older white man and I’ve been upset with my colleagues for over fifty years. And now the issues are coming to a head.

An Enduring Lesson

I hadn’t thought about men and power much until I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore in the 1960s. At the time the Women’s Liberation Movement was beginning and I found myself working with young, bright women among the men. Our mission in behalf of delivering mental health services to impoverished citizens brought it all to a head. 

Naturally the heads of the program were older white men and they had no dedication to our mission to serve the people of Baltimore. They wanted the grant money, preservation of their status and continuation of the type of program they had been offering. In fact, that program was not what our people needed. And so we fought back and the lessons I learned were carried forward with me.

See It For What It Is

And now the fight continues and this fall it seems there may be what is called “a blue wave” in the interim election. I object to the term because it politicizes an important change which is NOT political. Certainly there is politics involved but we are seeing a worldwide movement to empower women at last. 

To put it bluntly I want to see the power of older white mean eroded and for women to come to equality and power because it is my firm belief that they will bring much needed change and equality of all kinds in a country which is changing rapidly with growing numbers of minorities.

Waves of Change

This is truly a wave of change and I relish these waves we have seen over human history. We have an ongoing wave within the black community. Yes, I refer to them as black because I was part of the reform movement when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and that was the year black was declared to be beautiful. It has special meaning.

And now women are coming to the fore. I am stunned to see smart women showing up on television as commentators in the news and business arenas. And, yes, they may be pretty as well in ways of their choosing.

Time For Men to Face the Future

Now it is time for men to choose a revolution of their own. And  by that I do not mean choosing to fight to retain their hold on power. Instead I strongly recommend introspection, recognition of alternative benefits and devotion to study the male culture. Surely there are benefits but there have also been marked negatives.

These changes are coming at us and we would do well to tend the benefits and seek understanding. It will benefit us all in unforeseen ways. It is time for change guys. Turn away from the grasp of power to a more diverse and glorious future!

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other one. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt