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 or other challenges, seriously. They do not invest in our care because we are not on the radar screen as politically valuable, but they also do not invest because they have no idea how many of us have recovered meaningful, active, contributing lives and they have even less an idea that many more people could be recovering if we have sufficient and timely access to the right treatments and supports! And those of us who understand recovery already know that our system focuses too heavily on medical management rather than on helping people recover wellness. This dichotomy of symptom management versus promoting recovery is going to come to a turning point when we finally face the cost of not investing in recovery, because in this age of managed care, research reveals that many dollars are wasted when we focus on crisis systems and medication management instead of on psychiatric rehabilitative and other approaches that reduce crises while supporting a person to become more self-determined about his health and mental wellbeing.
So how can we as self-advocates or supporting recovery advocates help? We must go to our legislators in Raleigh, show them who we are as people who happen to have psychiatric labels but whose lives are no longer defined by that label, and tell our legislators to invest in recovery! No one can do it like we can, and our message cannot be ignored because it flies in the face of stigma and wrong assumptions. It focuses decision-makers on the hopefulness and the known outcomes that drive our individual progress and our advocacy!
Please, call or visit your state senator or house member and let them know who you are, how you have reclaimed meaning and how you contribute, and challenge him or her to consider that outcomes which reveal health, integration into our communities, and yes, reduced joblessness must be drivers of mental health care management and service provision—whoever is managing! And tell him or her that we are no longer people to be swept under rugs, but whose welfare is valuable and who can no longer vote for legislators who continue to disregard us. We are North Carolina citizens, we can recover, and we are worth the investment!