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It’s Time for a Change

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We hear and see time and again stories of individuals living with schizophrenia involving struggles with keeping consistent employment, housing, or care. We read the studies that find that people with schizophrenia face increased risk for suicide, premature death, and as victims of violence or harm.

Change will not come with trying the same approaches. Change will not happen without a new strategy to address these concerns.

I recently worked with colleagues from across the globe to give input on a new international report, Schizophrenia: Time to Commit to Policy Change.

This report is helpful in laying out an international consensus around what evidence based programs and policies we need to better support and improve the lives of individuals living with schizophrenia.

Each country has its own approach to provision of professional mental health care, yet the policies recommended in the report echo the priority areas for action worldwide:

  1. the need to raise public awareness and education;
  2. to give an increased focus on peer support and self-management; and
  3. the need for integrated primary and behavioral healthcare.

Of course, the need for each of these areas is adequate funding to support programs with these aims. Without funding, the strategy cannot be put into action. The report lays out a compelling case for the need. Now what is our role?

Let’s work together to put this report in front of those who make the funding decisions. The National Council is here in our nation’s capital for a reason – policy. However, as the saying goes, all politics is local, and policy change often begins when states and local governments can demonstrate how a program leads to change, long term cost savings, or other positive outcomes.

Let’s think about how we can partner strategically to get grants focused on these three priority areas. Funding often goes to those who can demonstrate a broad impact. Instead of going up against each other for limited funds, how can you and another community partner (a health clinic, homeless shelter, local police, etc.) team up to address these needs? And let us know how we can help – our mission is to advance your mission.

Let’s spread the word about the difference we can make. Chances are you know someone with an amazing story of recovery. Share it (with permission, of course). And, let us know how we can amplify that story to a broader audience. Our recent magazine commemorating the 50th anniversary of the community mental health act profiled several individuals who have experienced schizophrenia. Through Mental Health First Aid, thousands of people share their experiences with people across their community, building understanding of each other’s perspectives.

These are my suggestions for change. What are yours? Share them in the comments, below.