I Guess We Can Stand The Heat, or We Wouldn’t Stay in the Kitchen!

I Guess We Can Stand The Heat, or We Wouldn’t Stay in the Kitchen!

A message for would-be and up-and-coming advocates.

The hot summer weather tests us all, but other things serve to test us!  For instance, advocacy is not easy, especially if you already feel un-empowered in society.  Yet the numbers of us gathering to advocate for good and respectful systems change and the numbers gathering to promote a new culture of thinking is growing, even if slowly!   But the kitchen is actually large enough for many more advocates, and our state needs the fresh energy and enthusiasm of the younger generation to get involved!

If you would like to get involved in advocacy at the system level–whether it is in your community or at the level of state government, there are people who would love to mentor you!   We may not have many resources, but we do have passion and enthusiasm.  But what you must bring with you is a willingness to work and to grow.  You must also bring a discomfort with the way things are and a desire to make a difference because it is right for all of us to help in society–no matter what label we wear.

Sometimes we can get comfortable with not having anything expected of us.   Sometimes we’d rather sit things out because we assume this is what is expected of us.  And sometimes, we may even be comfortable with the role as a victim of a system!  This way, we can sit and blame but we don’t have to lift a finger!

Please, please, please.  Our world needs us to help make the difference!  And so much health can come when we determine not to stagnate, but to live actively!  We need your voices, so think about this and let one of us know you want to help!

You can begin by looking at the web sites of advocacy organizations:  NC CANSO (www.nccanso.org), NC MHCO (www.ncmhco.org), Recovery NC (substance use recovery–  www.recoverync.org) and the Association of Self-Advocates of North Carolina (www.asa-nc.org).  If you find some of their work interesting, then contact one of them by email or telephone and let them know you would like to learn how to advocate with them.  Any of these organizations would surely welcome your help AND the opportunity to mentor you!

The kitchen is hot!  Sometimes there is tension!  But the reward of influencing change, impacting the future can hardly be measured.  And you may find that you could stand more heat than you thought, that you are more resilient than you had known!  Come join other wonderful, resilient people from across the state!  You are necessary!

Medical home? Mental Health home? Health Support center? HEALTH HOME!

No matter how some officials may feel about it, the Affordable Care Act has been law now for many months.  This means that health care and mental health care are being integrated and reformed.  It means that more people than ever will have insurance to pay for their care–whether through medicare, medicaid, or private insurance.  It means that every state in the country as well as the federal government are in the midst of some of the most important planning processes in the history of health care.

If you are a person with a mental illness, an addiction disorder, or a developmental/intellectual disability, you likely are not very familiar with any of this.  Yet your ideas about health care and promoting wellness are so important to this process, because your understanding of health, illness, and the path back to wellness is some of the most important input our state needs to have had in developing its current plan.

Admittedly, from the medical perspective, our state is fortunate in that for several years some very dedicated leaders have been working to improve the coordination of care for Medicaid patients.  This initiative, called Community Care North Carolina (CCNC), also works to  ensure that effective follow-through by patients would lead to better treatment outcomes.  By developing a model data gathering and electronically based coordination system,  CCNC and its associated Community Care Networks (please learn more at www.communitycarenc.org), North Carolina has reduced Medicaid expenditures while improving clinical results in people’s lives.  For this, North Carolina has garnered a bit of interest by federal agencies considering the future.

However, it is important that while states are required to establish “health homes,” a health home is a concept distinct and larger in its role than a medical home.