The shared responses across all plans are commendable – spotlighting substance use programs, the need for parity in reimbursement, improving access to mental health care, and training more providers. The existence of these plans is a remarkable first, and clearly places mental health as a pivotal issue of our time. However, it has not yet been addressed in any televised debate, where these plans can be dissected, and further thinking drawn out. It’s time to change that.
Before Fountain House, I was in a dark place. I had dropped out of my second college without even completing a semester. I had no support and no one to talk to. I had no one to help me find my direction or guide me. I thought I would be in the same place for the rest of my life.
In December 2011, I lost everything - my marriage, my possessions, my home. I rang in the new year in a psychiatric ward. I was a shell of myself. But in March 2012, I found Fountain House.
I first joined Fountain House in 1982 after experiencing homelessness and incarceration. I’ve been to a lot of other programs where they only work with you for a year or eighteen months. Then you’re back on the street, having to start all over again.
The only way to ensure the long-term recovery of individuals with serious mental illness – and to reduce the costs associated with their care – is by helping them overcome the profound isolation they endure.
Loneliness around the holidays is difficult for anyone— and for people experiencing a mental health crisis, this time can be especially challenging. This year, Fountain House is partnering with ForLikeMinds to deliver messages of hope to people that will be spending the holidays in psychiatric facilities.
On World Mental Health Day, I am proud to take this opportunity to not only share my first message with you – our community of supporters – but also to celebrate the remarkable contributions of our global movement. One that is based on dignity, human rights, equity, and agency. From the moment I stepped through the doors of Fountain House in New York, I felt the strength of this movement.
This is not my normal blog on mental illness policy, but since Kenn Dudek is retiring I wanted to say something about him. Kenn has been President of Fountain House for over 25 years and a relentless advocate on behalf of people with the most serious mental illnesses. He is a hero of mine.
After visiting Fountain House Farm once a month for the past nine years, Chaitanya refers to herself as a “veteran”. She is frequently called upon to lead groups of members experiencing the farm for the first time. “Staff rely on veterans like me to go up and show people the ropes … and make sure things are done right.”
I had written in my book of my belief that my brother could have been helped by “programs that would enable him, and others with schizophrenia, to participate in society rather than be pushed to its fringes.” And now, suddenly, I was standing in just such a place.