I continue to be amazed how after six years the language of mental health systems has changed in Massachusetts. All because of one little girl named Rosie D and a group of lawyers who felt the eleven plaintiffs had a case; even though Rosie D would age out prior to the “settlement” being started.
Every day something new happens in the wraparound world for advocates in the state, families that receive support and the many providers and workforce that have occurred as a result of the case. One thing I continue to think of when I talk to families or reflect on days that my own families received the array of services in the state, I continue to think of Rosie D.
Rosie, you are due for a thank you. Please allow me to thank you for the many things you gave my family the opportunity to receive. Also let me tell you there are many people doing amazing work and many that need to do better. But first let’s look at what worked well for my family:
We were able to receive intensive services in the community for my middle child. This would be the opening that allowed for issues to be addressed. It would also impact my family in ways that today I can see the good and the amazing alongside the challenges. My family was able to grow and to work on things in the home, the community, with family members, natural supports and support skill building because tragedy and emotional health were so high! I would be able to have people come to my house instead of being the parade in the community to get support for my kid. There would be one Intensive Clinician that would stay and work it out because of a teenager that was stuck. My son would have a therapeutic mentor ™ that would be his voice alongside him. We would have community crisis teams visit our family and assess if a hospital level of care was needed. (MCI teams). We would also be the ones that would have In Home Behavioral therapy (IHBT). To our family, the behavioral therapy was the biggest help. I received coaching, easy tools to make things better, and it allowed me to explain to others that what I was seeing was real. So Rosie D and all your connections: Thank YOU!
Thank you for allowing my children to have a community service instead of the locked doors, cold walls and rejection-like feeling that they were the problem. Psychiatric care is so hard to understand; it’s nothing like medical care.
As a parent that walks a path that not many people understand, it was crucial for me to have a family partner. She was able to prepare information with me and present my thoughts and vision. She proceeded to organize and help me process what I’d just gone through. This is one of the best supports you could ever offer a parent. Wraparound reminds me of the warm blanket you are given as a child to make you feel better, or the friends and network that believe in you! Rosie D- thank you!!
The approach, practice and process of wraparound is there- what is not there is giving families the menu and understanding of what can be given to them. It is a challenge to understand, but it is also the challenge that when a family is not aware of other services they do not know where to go. For that, it is hard. If we can get full speed on the Children’s Behavioral Health Intiative that is really all about you Ms. Rosie, our children, families and community would be in a much better place. We need to work on one big thing. It is the hardest piece.
Listen to families and children and fight stigma! And admit when something doesn’t work and create something better because each child and family is worth it! Do not graduate if you’re not ready – keep trying!
Lastly, let’s make the medical world join the behavioral world. The Affordable Care Act is around the corner. Medical homes and health homes are here! We are at the beginning of Mental Health Parity – finally, everyone hears that mental health and behavioral health are real. We as parents aren’t making it up. Let’s make it real. Everyone knows pink is for breast cancer awareness and talks about it. Wear green. When you do, and someone says, that it’s beautiful, say out loud and strong, “It’s for mental health awareness: bipolar, schizophrenia, impulsivity, obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress disorder, Asperger’s, mood disorders. They are real!” Don’t be ashamed- we are in this together.
Meri Viano is our guest blogger. She is the parent of two sons and a daughter who continue to inspire her blog posts.