I am very proud to share with you the important impact that Fountain House made locally, nationally and internationally on October 10th, World Mental Health Day.
World Health Organization
Dr. Ralph Aquila and I presented at the mhGAP Forum in Geneva at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO). As you may recall, two years ago, Fountain House partnered with WHO to develop guidelines and best practices to reduce early mortality among people with serious mental illness in lower and middle income countries (LMICs).
Representatives from major international government agencies and NGO’s, as well as Directors from leading US agencies including, SAMHSA, NIMH and CDC, were in attendance to learn about the efficacy of Fountain House’s approach to integrated medicine and wellness within a community-based mental health setting.As part of a panel that included WHO Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Dr. Shekhar Saxena, SAMHSA Director Paolo del Vecchio, and Professor at Kings College London Graham Thornicroft, the Fountain House model was featured as “An Integrated Community System of Care” – unique in its combination of Integrated Medicine, “Place and Purpose”, and Housing Support.
Some of the important materials developed as part of our partnership with WHO include: an article co-authored by Dr. Ralph Aquila, Karen Pratt and me (along with other researchers from 21 countries) to be published in the prestigious journal, World Psychiatry; a co-branded Meeting Report on guidelines and best-practices to reducing early mortality; and Job Aid - a tool kit for health care providers around the world. In February, when the various materials are officially released, Dr. Shekhar Saxena will join other national and international policy-makers and stakeholders for a press conference at Fountain House to ensure that the findings from our work are turned into action.
WHO has an extraordinary ability to convene cross-sectoral stakeholders. Our partnership with WHO gives Fountain House visibility and acknowledges our important contribution to the dialogue emerging around mental health. WHO is serving as an invaluable “distribution channel,” raising awareness of our award-winning approach to promoting mental health and wellness.
On the National front, our members represented Fountain House at the Destination Dignity March for Dignity and Change in Mental Health in Washington, DC. Destination Dignity is a collaborative project for change and public engagement around mental health in America. Marchers stood up to stigma, shame and discrimination and spoke out against chronic underfunding of mental health services.
New York City
And, right here at Fountain House in New York City, our doors were open, providing “place and purpose” and a healthy meal to hundreds of members.
We also made our presence known in the online universe, by asking our 5,000 Facebook followers to change their profile pictures to show support for people living with serious mental illness.
As you can see, Fountain House was loud and proud – at home, abroad and in cyberspace - on World Mental Health Day.