Now, here’s some great news! After years of advocacy by consumer policy geeks across our state (including NC CANSO, for sure, who were almost jumping up and down for this!), the Division of Mental Health will be hiring a senior level policy staff who will work directly under the Director of the Division of Mental Health. Division Director Courtney Cantrell and staff reached out to consumer affairs leadership in New York to give them insight on this specialized administrative role and to give input into the position description.
Why do we need a Consumer Policy Advisor?
For years, there have been people who are either service users in our public system or who have learned how to live more fully, with their health intact, after having been impacted by mental health-related problems or substance use problems or even intellectual or developmental disabilities who have suffered because of their status. Such individuals are an extremely important part of our state-wide “mental health community!” Yet they have been disregarded by people who have held power in their relationships. Stigma gives us a lowered social status and allows others to look the other way while some have suffered harm–sometimes intentionally–by people employed in this human services system.
A Consumer Policy Adviser is the first and most important step to addressing the inequity that prevents sufficient participation by system uses and consumer advocates in North Carolina. This person will be able to establish the policy and the structures that will make our public system a safe one for us to be able to contribute, but it will (very importantly) advise how to make it a safer place for service users who may need to address concerns to a responsive and non-punitive party. The point is, we cannot focus our efforts on recovery outcomes and the power of self-determination adequately until we know we are on firm and welcoming ground. This statements means no insult to key staff in the Customer Services and Advocacy Office. Hopefully, this office welcomes this key role as one that will empower them, as well!
I am happy to report that there have been more than 100 people to apply for this position! WOW! This speaks well of our state, already! I am told that Director Cantrell is personally reviewing these applications herself. So hopefully we can look for good news sometime in May or so?
To learn more about this description, check out this link.