Who We Are? What is Coaching Versus Therapy? What is Peer Support?
WHO WE ARE Mental Health Resources is a peer support, educational and coaching service for family members whose relative or friend may have mental health challenges.
We provide referral and source information gathered through in-the-field research and a wealth of advocacy/activist experience.
We co-authored the definitive state-sponsored self-help "Family Survival Handbook" to help families navigate the mental health maze and a guide to their "rights" according to state laws, policy and professional guidelines: "When Families Join the Mental Healthcare Team Everyone Benefits!"
Our expertise is based on personal experience successfully navigating the bewildering complexities of the mental health system, a history of forceful advocacy and a specialty in the area of family mental health education.
Our services include telephone and email coaching and advocating for or with families as advocates with mental health professionals, mental health authorities and treatment facilities.
In addition we offer basic education on mental health issues and will show you how to approach the mental health system in order to obtain the optimal treatments and services. We also provide guidelines and support for obtaining supportive housing placement.
Our commitment is to offer independent straightforward, candid, proactive, forceful, solution-oriented service to represent client interests as we would our own.
WHAT IS COACHING VERSUS THERAPY?
Therapy often follows a medical model; coaching does not. Coaching in the mental health area is often conducted by peers providing crucial information-based support and practical guidance. We help people help themselves.
WHAT IS PEER SUPPORT?
The first peer support group was Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, based on the principle that persons who had experienced and overcome alcoholism would be more effective in assisting others to do the same. For both family and offspring, this peer approach is based on arriving at an acceptance of illness and willingness to manage it, learning from others who have succeeded. Hope and quality of life are not dependent on the status of symptoms but on having the right medications, tools, and emotional support to manage the symptoms along with acceptance of what we can and cannot change. At a frightening and unfamiliar time, peer support provides strength, aid and reassurance.
HOW DOES THE PEER WORK? The Peer functions as a coach, counselor, advocate and educator. Peers are trained to help identify and achieve specific life goals. Peer support does not replace traditional mental health services but strengthens their effectiveness and enhances existing programs such as NAMI’s “Family-to-Family” course by offering individualized support.
HOW WE HELP FAMILIES SUCCEED
Inform family and caretakers about treatment, care and services, programs, services, policies and procedures during the hospital period.
Inform family of their right to partner in treatment and have significant involvement with discharge planning.
Explain the emotional stages to acceptance — denial, anger and bargaining — that families and caretakers must pass through in order to be effective advocates for themselves and their loved one
Prepare for families/caretakers to function as proxy case managers
Describe how the mental health system can be fragmented and how to work around its limitations
Explain how hard it is to arrive at a psychiatric diagnosis and how, even then, it can shift
Educate about the “trial & error” aspect of prescribing medications and how to advocate until finding the “right” one
Provide an advocate if the family/caretaker feels they are not being heard by treatment team members
Work with mental health professionals to obtain housing, vocational support, peer education, resources and benefits for the consumer
Sustain a positive and constructive approach in face of those who don’t believe that the majority “recover” from serious mental illness
Help initiate and provide guidance and support through any complaint process
ON WHAT WE ARE BASED Educating consumers and their families not only changes the course of psychiatric illness and families’ lives and, but empowers both to build lives beyond illness. A definitive National Institute of Mental Health literature search proves that evidence-based family/consumer education reduces relapse rates by as much as 50% in the first year and 75% in the second. This approach also doubles consumer employment rates and reduces overall health care costs.
Our belief in recovery is supported by findings of international longitudinal studies which demonstrate that over time, more than half of those suffering from a major mental illness such as schizophrenia, do significantly improve or recover — that is they can function socially, work, relate well to others and live independently in the larger community.
We believe in a paradigm shift in professional practice where families are respected as partners and collaborators, competent and with strengths and resources. As equal participants on the treatment team, family members can act as educators, students, advocates and mediators.
Mental illness can be unpredictable; successful treatment requires a team effort and family is the bridge that makes effective partnership and growth possible. Further, our experience has shown that because families don’t know how they are entitled* to be included in their loved one’s treatment and discharge plan, they can become relegated to a passive role.