Monday, July 21, 2008

The Recovery Council

from Gerald Butler:


The ‘Recovery Council’ is a group of consumers from all over the
State chosen by the Michigan Department of Community Health
to advise on the system of treatment and recovery. My first thoughts
were that the council was business as usual and we were merely for show.
I was pleasantly surprised to see our hopes and dreams become state
policy. Consumers were finally being heard. The fun part is looking
back years ago when Irene Kazieczko and Pam Werner
(MDCH) were struggling to bring Person Centered
Planning and realizing how, due to their efforts, Michigan is becoming
a national model when it comes to consumer involvement in the recovery
process. Because I work from the street level, (
& Drop In Centers)

I am well aware of the effect ‘Policy’ has on the daily lives of
consumers. Today, the word on the street is “Peer Support”.

At Friday’s ‘Recovery Council’ meeting Mike Head
(Deputy Dir. Mental Health & Substance Abuse) gave us ‘A Little Perspective’.
After hearing his bio, I finally realized what makes him so unique.
Mike has been working in the system for a very long time and started
from the lower rungs and worked his way up. Having worked on the streets
he knows our wants and desires, and he obviously knows the system from
an administrative point of view. I wish I had room for all the items
that Mike spoke on, but here are 3 of 13 key points:
1) Michigan’s mental health system is a statewide opportunity,
not an insurance plan, 2) Employment is critical to self esteem and
ones role in the world 3) develop a zero tolerance attitude to poor
care, to responses to other human beings that do not recognize personal
. If you ever see Mike be sure to shake his hand because
even good administrators need encouragement.

The bottom line is that we have true friends in Lansing opening doors
for us. All they ask in return is for us to have a belief in ourselves,
and that recovery is possible. A sort of side bar to the council meetings
is that we have become very close to being family, and these meetings
are an opportunity to catch up on each others lives. Mary Beth bought
photos of her new baby, Nancy received her bachelors’ degree, Sherri
is still proudly heading the WRAP programs, and Tammy looks great and
is doing even better. As a consumer, if you ever come across a Recovery
Council paper, you’ll know that it’s not the same issues, worded
differently. It will be something done by folks who have walked and
still walk in our shoes. The Council presents to MDCH the concerns of
daily life with an illness, and in turn MDCH helps us deal with those
concerns. Administrators’ working side by side with consumers is a
textbook example of System Transformation.

The Consumer Conference is this week and the excitement is in the air,
particularly for the ‘Recovery Band’. Something indescribable
happens to us that promotes our feeling better about ourselves long
before the actual gig. That may be due to our knowing that the folks
we will be playing for happen to walk, talk, and feel, just like us.
The Recovery Band feels both blessed and honored to be able to entertain
at this event, and so we will be at our best. The main thing is that
the states most ardent consumer advocates will be presenting at this
event. So if you can’t attend this conference or send a representative,
you’ll be the one who misses out.

Gerald Butler

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