We need reform that not just addresses the content of the mental health system but the process of how we do mental health. We need a system that raises the bar and expects higher standards in the way people treat people and builds a new expectation of the common experience of people served by the system. We need a system that seeks to be trauma informed but also one that refuses to chronically be a source of trauma.
We need a system that is honest, whose guiding principle is to help and not protect the status, the territory or the role of anyone whose sole purpose is to protect that status or role.
We need to have a system that is honest about its own ignorance.
We need to have not just a system but communities that are trauma informed. We need to have a system that deals with the chronic sources of injury in the lives of those it serves.
We need to have a system that assumes the worth of those it serves rather than measuring their worth by their compliance with treatment.
We need to have a system that believes people are more than what is difficult for them or that everything they do or say is a symptom of that difficulty.
We need to have a system that believes that better life is possible and that empowers people to make the choices in their life to find it.
We need to have a system that makes a difference without labeling the people it serves as what is really different.
We need to have a system that is a model of how to treat people as people regardless of what they are called rather than one more example of a culture awash with stigma, prejudice and discrimination.
We need a system that treats hope as a possibility of everyday life and sees it’s mission as providing the experiences, tools and skills to people that help them to find and build a better life for themselves.
We need a system that realizes that life is not a medical disorder and that approaches the people it serves with a realistic idea of its appropriate role in their life.
Some of these things may be addressed by legislation but many will not be.
We spend too much time being against and not enough time being for. We need to build a movement of compelling testimony and witness. The quality of what we do in the end defines the credibility of what we say.
I hope we can develop a voice that matters. I think we have a long way to go.