North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization

Now Hitting the Mainstream Media:  People with Psychiatric Labels Mean PROFITS!

There are many ways to respond to difficult and disruptive thinking or behavior.   And I believe medications can be appropriate though they do not resolve everything—recovering and moving forward requires much more than a pill.  But it is time that we as Americans take it upon ourselves to value each other more and to learn more about what truly causes a person to think, feel, or behave differently.  Then consequently, we must come to terms with what hurts and what helps people and we must take a stand for the abusive practices against persons with psychiatric labels to end.  Article revealing new market tactics here. 


Cuts COST!  

When dollars are cut to mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services, this translates to negative consequences to our citizens and communities.  Perhaps legislators do not take their actions seriously because they do not take us, people with mental health, substance use, or other challenges, seriously.  Read on . . . 


National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery Responds to Murphy Bill Proposal

Read the Coalition’s press release HERE.



Check out this important research project about the experience of peer specialists HERE!  





 . . . finally, American society is finally embracing the need for dollars to buy value in health care and mental healthcare. . . If the results in people’s lives are not positive changes in health and the quality of their lives, then they have been failed and the system will prove to be unsustainable.   We can no longer use public dollars to buy poor results . . . read more.



What Is NC CANSO Thankful For This Year?  

We enjoyed, along with about two hundred of our friends, our best Recovery Conference Ever (the annual One Community it Recovery Conference) where we had some outstanding speakers share their enthusiasm and their “how-tos” with people from across the state!  We have influenced the Division   of Mental Health to consider how to respond to people in crisis in less traumatic and more health promoting ways.  We have also advocated for the development of a top level Consumer Affairs role in Raleigh.  We have monitored the ongoing development of our first peer center and found others who are interested in starting them in their own communities.  We have identified some psychiatrists who are dedicated to a new focus of mental health care aimed at helping people recover!  We have kept many across the state informed with our newsletters.

We aim to continue these efforts and more with a stronger board and fresh participants on it, and we hope to reach more and more un-reached individuals with the HOPE of growth, change, and recovery in 2015!

Won’t you help us?  YOU CAN DONATE HERE AND NOW and your gift will be tax deductible.  And we will be full of THANKSGIVING!

Donate through PayPal:

Or mail your check to NC CANSO, 731 East Sprague Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27107.




​​Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions CEO Pam Shipman has established The Bonnie Schell Scholarship in honor of Bonnie Schell, founding Director of Consumer Affairs at Cardinal Innovations. This scholarship fund will allow consumers to attend behavioral health educational trainings and conferences by covering the registration fees.

Ms. Schell retired from Cardinal Innovations in 2011. She had a lifelong passion and dedication to advocacy and empowerment for those with mental illness. While in California, she ​became a well-known advocate in the Client Rights Movement, established a Mental Health Drop-in Center and served two terms on the California Mental Health Planning Council.
Ms. Schell was a systems changer while working with Cardinal Innovations. She advocated for consumer rights, consumer choice and self-determination. She initiated the practice of having consumers and family members on committees and work groups. Ms. Schell was instrumental in the development and implementation of Person Centered Planning conferences. The Consumer and Family Advisory Committee became an empowered group with the coNfidence to become advocates due to Ms. Schell’s commitment. She pioneered Peer Support in North Carolina and developed the training manual used across the state to certify many Peer Support Specialists
Way to go, Bonnie!  Keep stepping ahead!
∗                       ∗                        ∗
We regret so much when people leave us so finally.  Yet often, when we consider people taking their own lives we tend to oversimplify the issues that may underlie such extreme and final decisions.  Read some provocative writing on the issue here.  Perhaps it is time that society rethinks how best to help people who are at risk of taking their lives.
. . . “Safety can mean control.  But internal safety is liberating and necessary for healing.”  What a gem of a statement, and most any person who has trodden a path to reclaim a meaningful life after having experienced a mental health emergency can understand this. This was stated by Leah Harris, Director of the National Coalition for Mental health Recovery and one of the trainers of the Emotional CPR class held last week in Raleigh.   Read MORE.
The ANNUAL “ALTERNATIVES’ CONFERENCE IS ON!  If you have hoped to attend and were waiting to see if the conference would be funded as usual by SAMHSA, check Events and Learning Opportunities tab.
Advocacy is certainly not easy.  Those who have had experiences that have resulted in their being labeled as “mentally ill” or “addict” know how hard it is to speak truth to power.  And in almost any setting, we are the least empowered.  We know that in this culture, society is generally not “on our side.”    It seems we are always in doubt because our “conditions” are only made visible by behavior.  Yet we know that society is often not right or just, and that it certainly is not merciful, thought there are (thank God!) individual members who are.
So why do we take the big risks many of us take in order to advocate?  Because we know how different things can possibly be some day.  Yes, even that possibility fuels our hope–and hope is what absolutely drives us!   When I see people around me living more actively, more assertively, and moving ever forward toward a higher quality of life, that hope continues to grow!
The problem is that for us, there are two kinds of advocacy:  The advocacy that creates good things and the advocacy aimed at preventing or stopping the wrong actions of the more empowered people around us.  Lately, I have had to mind the balancing of the activities in both arenas, and what I am learning is that one has to be very strong in soul, spirit, and general health in order to keep up with doing both.  Why?  Because the dark so easily clouds the light.  The negative energy, so to speak, that comes from being with or trying to persuade people who do not share the values that are such a part of my being seeps into my soul.  It clouds (though it doesn’t actually diminish) my hope.  It makes me angry and cynical.   It’s hard to be creative when you are feeling this way.
I am resolved that the hope will not come from dark arenas and that my energy is best spent where I can be creative, encouraging on the most personal of levels, and supportive of my fellows–whoever they are.  I can raise concerns to knowledgeable and caring people whose trust has been earned, but most of my focus must stay on the creative and productive side where the productivity is measured in terms of good things happening in people’s lives.
I encourage any advocates  reading this to assess where and how you can best apply your energy as an advocate, or as a change agent at ANY level–even just helping friends who need support to make their own changes.  Because the bottom line is that this is what we all need most in our lives.  Support and validation.  And sometimes this comes faster, cleaner, and in the light of day when we share our hope and keep moving, avoiding the darkness which might be cast by others.
Read about Dignity Dialogues.   May 4 is National Day of Dignity and Mental Health.  
National press release on Day of Dignity and Mental Health here.
Peer Centers as a community based solution!  
Collaborating across the field for progress, recovery outcomes.
Check out new blog entries at Ideas and Issues!
This writer examines this issue from different angles.
“If someone is forced to pursue treatment but services are not available then the purpose is defeated.  Forcing someone into treatment who has to negotiate the labyrinth of the current NC public mental health system with screenings and referrals and authorizations and then waiting to see the doctor since the doctor is COMPLETELY booked defeats the purpose of trying to provide timely and appropriate care to prevent de-compensation.”  
            See the rest of this article contributed by a clinician here.
Almost one month later:  LET US NOT FORGET!
While we are considering bills that threaten our civil rights (yes, much of what could happen with The Murphy Bill are issues of social justice) at the national and state levels (because we do have people pushing for stronger forced treatment laws in NC), only a month has passed since a young North Carolina citizen was murdered by a  law enforcement officer at close range.  Reportedly, the officer said, “I don’t have time for this.”  (This can only mean taking the time necessary to help a family whose son needed assistance getting to a hospital).  Young Keith Vidal, who was having symptoms of schizophrenia, weighed all of 90 pounds, had already been tazed and pinned down to the floor in the hallway of his own home by two officers.   The third officer, just having arrived on the scene, leaned right in between the other officers and shot him in the chest several times.  
My own son, now having left us almost five years ago by suicide, had a similar experience with police officers before.  They did not shoot him, but they beat him and tazed him and broke his arm in two places.  He was in the hospital in Oregon for two weeks.  He was only eighteen years old and victimized by SIX officers.  We don’t know why the police respond abusively all too frequently to people who are acting differently  because of the way their minds are working, but we know it must stop.  Because people who are acting differently because of mental disarray, influence of substances, or developmental issues are fully human.  They are not sub-human, and are due the rights of all citizens.  Innocent until proven guilty, due the assistance they need if they are in trouble.   Yet has stigma extended its ugly reach so far into society as to be the cause of abusive killing?  And what a harsh reality that so many officers are not held accountable for their own behavior after doing so much damage to or ending lives.
NC CANSO has begun advocacy on many fronts because we believe in the full citizenship of all people.  We are asking for non-police Mobile Crisis Response Teams or mental health crisis specialists to remain on call to be contacted by the community or by the police so that police can participate indirectly, but the actual face-to-face intervention is done by a “people whisperer,” as one of my friends says. 
We hope you will join us in our advocacy as we ask for the right services and training so that we have more “people whispering” going on–encouraging people to choose help toward recovery.  This is what we want and need–NOT forced outpatient treatment!s
Please stay tuned, and talk about this important issues with friends and colleagues.    We surely thank you.

National Coalition on Mental Health Recovery responds to coverage about ECT.  See Issues and Ideas.


Making Choices or Taking Chances during this Time of Change?




“It’s in recovery, Coker said, not institutionalization, that the state should be investing.”  (article by Taylor Sisk) NC CANSO urges caution about opening more hospitals before ensuring community services (see NC Health News) links



Ensuring the Role and Rights of System Users and Families article here



You must wonder where we’ve been.  Well, like many of you, we’ve been working hard as this year brings so many changes to our state.  Most are good.  Some are scary.  And there will be fall-out–people falling through the cracks who need our advocacy until they find some homeostasis in the system again.

NC CANSO Board Members have stayed as current as possible on so much going on.  We discuss details of the various work groups and initiatives as we learn of them, and several board members participate on various work groups where we can advocate for self-determination, dignity, real life outcomes (does a service really help a person live a better life?), engagement (real, balanced relationships between service providers and service users), etc.  I have written about some of these changes on this blog site.

One thing we are excited about is the hiring by DHHS of Jessica Keith, North Carolina’s Special Advisor on the Americans with Disability Act.  She was brought in to oversee the implementation of the North Carolina-Department of Justice Settlement which has followed the investigation and findings by the DOJ of our state’s institutional bias with regard to responding to the needs of the community of persons with mental illness.  Jessica is very rights-oriented and has a personal philosophy that supports the strengths of people as the foundation to build upon rather than fencing them in because of their deficits or passivity.   It is a sign of responsibility by our state’s leadership to have found someone of Jessica’s savvy and conviction and brought her here to ensure lasting change!

Another big change in our state besides the DOJ initiative is that advocates, leadership, and a growing number of providers are ready to embrace the turning of this big ship from its former “medical” orientation  to one that aims to help people truly recover!  That is, we are currently focused on managing symptoms and on crisis care more than on helping people live a healthier life of growth where they can recover.  Now, between the mandates to contain costs of care and the moral call to help people live more independently and to find themselves outside of their illness, our state is starting to move in a new direction!  As consumer advocates, we are happy because we have been urging the state to take a clear step toward developing and agenda for a recovery oriented systems for the past two years!

DHHS is planning a one-day Recovery Summit, a working meeting to include staff from LME/Managed Care Organizations, many consumer advocates, and several other stakeholders to establish foundational concepts upon which to build recovery policy and next steps.  Because of the fixed amount of dollars for this, the attendance is limited (hopefully the Recovery Conference will be a good place for larger follow-through!).  The key presenter and leader of this discussion is Mr. Harvey Rosenthal, who opened many eyes about our convenient timing to move toward a recovery focus when he was with us in November at the annual Recovery Conference.

Other changes coming at us fast are related to financial resources in our state and the fact we have a new leadership.  As ‘consumers’ we should advocate for an efficient system for billing and authorizing services so that we don’t lose valuable service providers.  After all, a consumer’s choice of whom he/she has as a provider should be a state’s value, just as we value other things that make people appreciate full citizenship!

Keep checking us out for more news and thoughts.



We Challenge Our State!

” . . . In North Carolina, if we are to ensure that life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness are available to all, then we have some hard thinking and much shared work ahead as we dismantle unacceptable systems and replace them with services that actually cost less and allow people with disabilities full citizenship and the right to grow healthier.”   Read more here!

Let us know what YOU think!  It’s important to us.  You can comment after the article when you click on the link.  


  * * *


DHHS   North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, the part of our goverment that is lead by the governor’s appointed Secretary of HHS (in our case, we have Secretary Cansler).  His office is tasked with directing the funding and services for health and safety needs.   Many of our most current interests relate to mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse service needs.  However, the Secretary’s department must also work on ensuring primary health care needs, safe drinking water, clean restaurants, and many other areas.  SO, Secretary Cansler has developed a new role to help him in his effort toward mental health services in the last two years, the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health within DHHS.

DMH or DMHDDSAS North Carolina’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, a subdivision of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

LME     “Local Management Entity”  A mental health care management organization charged with developing and overseeing an adequate local public service system that allows citizens ease of access to the appropriate services when they need them.  LMEs are to ensure service value (quality for the expenditure) and reduce the need for citizens to go to emergency settings by linking them to the right services early when people need them.

LOC     The Legislative Oversight Commitee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilites, and Substance Abuse Services.

DMA     The Division of Medical Assistance, the division which is responsible for ensuring that persons eligible for medicaid have necessary services available across our state.  Also, DMA is responsible for ensuring that medicaid dollars are used responsibly.

Comments on: "North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization" (1)

  1. Quote (test): “Friends are relatives you make for yourself.” Eustache Deschamps

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