There are noticeable increases in the amount of attention and words spoken about reinstitutionalization, trending towards a return to the Asylum model. They are dialoguing on the pros/cons of long-term involuntary psychiatric inpatient warehousing with a predilection towards citing a human costs and benefits assessment on how to best support people living with serious and persistent mental illness.

Let me speak to what this population actually can look like to you (from my professional, voluntary and personal experience vantage point):

Financially impoverished,
Reliant on public community mental health services,
Poor, if any, physical primary care,
Sketchy housing, transportation, social supports role, 
Disenfranchised by race, culture and spoken language,
US Veteran PTSD forensic and acute service recipient, 
Absence of peer services | supports due to philosophy and wallet size,
First time psychosis experience,
Suicide/Homicide demographic.

Theirs is frequently a daily struggle to practice ADLs, not going hungry, spiritual barrenness, of hearing “compliance” and forced medication, and a lack of hope pervades. Suicide completion numbers are ever increasing with data substantiating hardest hit populations.

My question to you is this:

Is our national collective of a Recovery Community, fringe silo group proliferation, and American community public mental health services failing and is it too late to salvage this for us?

My shared life experience is that I am a psychiatric survivor, and now permanently stigmatized as having a psychiatric label. I live in recovery, am self-determined and strengths based, trauma informed as a peer support and grounded foundationally through peer service and support.

I am formally requesting the collective decision makers behind the national recovery campaign to issue a Call for Action to stake a claim for our inherent human rights and civil liberties.



Reprinted from Leah Harris FB post, February 20, 2015

PLEASE take 10 minutes today to write to the NYT and tell them what you think about re-institutionalizing with disabilities. Talking points are below.

We Must Respond to the New York Times Op-Ed Advocating
Long-Term Institutionalizaton of People with Mental Disabilities
February 20, 2015 – An op-ed headlined “The Modern Asylum” in The New York Times this week has sparked much discussion and concern in the mental health and disabilities communities. The piece endorses ideas put forth recently in a JAMA editorial subtitled “Bring Back the Asylum.” In addition to repeating the call for reverting to long-term institutionalization for people with mental illness, the Times op-ed proposes including people with intellectual disabilities as well. You can read it here:…/02/18/opin…/the-modern-asylum.html…

There are many responses to the op-ed in the comments section. It would be helpful for as many people as possible to offer their comments about what a bad idea this is.

IT ALSO WOULD BE VERY USEFUL FOR AS MANY ORGANIZATIONS AS POSSIBLE TO SEND A SHORT LETTER TO THE EDITOR RESPONDING TO THIS OP-ED. LTEs should be 150-175 words – only a couple of paragraphs. The more LTEs they get opposing the ideas that are promoted in the op-ed, the more likely they are to publish some of these. Also it’s important for the editorial board to hear from a ton of people in order to understand how far out of the mainstream and widely rejected the idea of expanding long-term institutionalization is.

PLEASE SUBMIT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Instructions for submitting a letter to the editor are here:…/site/editorial/letters/letters.html

Points the letters can make include:
We have years of experience with community services that work, and the problem is that they are under-funded and in short supply, not that people with disabilities belong in institutions;
Public policies should emphasize proven treatment that promotes recovery and services and support that empower people to make their own life choices and participate fully in their communities;
We should not go back to the failed policies of long-term institutionalization that cannot provide individualized care and lead to restraint and seclusion, over-medication and other abuses.

THE MODERN ASYLUM, February 18, 2015, The New York TIMES Editorial

Read this New York TIMES Editorial regarding psychiatric reform and mental health transformation supporting the return to the Dark Ages of human’s history… of imprisoning the mentally ill and “invalids” via lifelong Asylum by jen


Healthy Behavior: Literacy and Activation the Gateway to the Future of Health

March 24 – 26, 2015 | Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, St. Louis, MO

Health care costs for patients enrolled in Medicare who were identified with low health-literacy skills were more than four times as high as costs for patients with high literacy, roughly $13,000 per year compared to $3,000 per year.

Activation scores have been demonstrated as predictive of health care outcomes. Patientswith low levels of activation have been found to have significantly greater health care costs than those with higher levels of activation. When socioeconomic factors and the severity of health conditions are controlled, patient activation remains predictive of health care costs and utilization.

How can we bend the health care cost curve while increasing the wellness and recovery of those we serve? Heath Literacy and Activation is one part of the answer.

According to Healthy People 2010, an individual is considered to be “health literate” when he or she possesses the skills to understand information and services and use them to make appropriate decisions about health. Lack of health literacy is estimated to cost $106-$236 billion annually. Activation goes beyond seeing a health care provider and understanding how to promote recovery; it’s the art and science of taking action on the information you have been given. It’s doing the things necessary to move toward recovery and wellness.

The 2015 ACHMA Summit explores this topic from several angles. What can we learn from the “physical health” community on this topic?  What about technology – is it helping or hurting?  How can we take a community approach? What does the research tell us?  What does it mean to approach this in a culturally competent or at least sensitive manner?   What can we learn from the positive psychology movement?

As an added bonus, we have an optional pre-Summit event exploring health homes in Missouri, the first to implement health homes statewide.

Goals of the Summit:
  • Explore how activation and health literacy change the nature and process of healthcare delivery
  • Reframe health literacy as more than being able to read and understand a prescription; literacy is specific to communities and cultures and requires working respectfully and cross-functionally with a broad set of partners.
  • Understand activation as not something done to those who consume healthcare services (including each of us), it’s about supporting change, listening to motivations, hopes and dreams; addressing stigma; and working as partners with every person to facilitate access to the right tools and programs at the right time.
  • Learn from individuals leading successful and innovative programs within this space in order to replicate and expand in our own settings, moving activation and health literacy forward.
The Summit features:
  • Catalysts: Keynote speakers who help us think about Activation and Health Literacy in new and fresh ways.
  • Going Deeper: Facilitated conversations using Appreciative Inquiry techniques for those who what to think deeply together about the implications of catalyst presentations.
  • Tech Tracks: For those who want to think about how technology can facilitate health literacy and activation.
  • Putting it Into Practice: Sessions that showcase programs that have implemented innovations within the health literacy and activation space.
  • Show Me the Data: Sessions that dig into the data around activation and health care literacy as a support to building the case when seeking to implement innovation back home.
  • Resource Ready: Fast-paced sessions that outline tools and resources you can use to implement programs at home.

Prior to the event, attendees will receive an eBook filled with information, articles, research, tools, and resources that help put health literacy and activation into practice. Attendees will have the chance to participate in creating an enriched version of the eBook post-Summit.

Optional pre-Summit Event – Exploring Missouri’s Behavioral Health Homes:  Innovations and Cultural Shift

Experience Missouri’s journey as the first in the nation to create a health home initiative. During the day, you will:

  • Learn how Missouri implemented and sustained the initiative,
  • Hear from the people who helped to shepherd this idea into reality, and
  • Visit an innovative health home and dialogue with staff.

More information and registration is available. Registration is limited to 30 people.

RECOVERY WORKS: National Activists & Organizations Call for Action

Excerpt from

Recovery Works (c) 2015, All Rights Reserved

“Recovery is a process, a way of life, an attitude, and a way of approaching the day’s challenges. It is not a perfectly linear process. At times our course is erratic and we falter, slide back, regroup and start again… The need is to meet the challenge of the disability and to re-establish a new and valued sense of integrity and purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability; the aspiration is to live, work and love in a community in which one makes a significant contribution.”

— Pat Deegan, PhD, person in recovery from serious mental illness

While the term “recovery” was originally applied to substance use conditions, in recent decades, there has been growing recognition that it also applies to mental health. People diagnosed with all mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can and do recover in the community – given the right mix of easily accessible supports and services.

The Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential.”

Recovery Works

Promoting Recovery Outcomes

We need to invest in recovery, which means investing in people and holding providers and systems accountable for increasing recovery outcomes, which include:

  • Permanent supportive housing
  • Employment and educational opportunities
  • Access to social support in the community
  • A sense of meaning and purpose in life
  • A sense of empowerment, or control over one’s life and treatment decisions


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