Behavioral Health Advocacy Goals

Poetry for Personal Power’s behavioral health advocacy work focuses on these areas:

Health equity and social determinants – Why do people with behavioral health conditions die 25 years younger? Why are opioid deaths increasing? What can we do to promote inclusion of the Recovery Movement in current health initiatives? We have completed a health equity fellowship with the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, we lead the Recovery Movement Health Equity national discussion group, and we are building a Pathways social determinants hub for peer specialists.

Funder advocacy – a lot of funders say that they care about social determinants of health and long-term health outcomes, but they are not funding these things. Many funders spend much of their money on health care access when this only affects 20% of health outcomes. We are trying to ask funders for better upstream, prevention, and outcome-oriented approaches.

Policy Change – We work with statewide Mental Health or Behavioral Health advocacy coalitions to promote effective legal change. Policy change is one of the three things coalitions can do well. We currently work with Missouri Coalition on Behavioral Health Advocacy, Mental Health Colorado, and the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

Effective peer engagement – Nothing about us without us. There are multiple levels of effective engagement for behavioral health advocacy. Very few groups do very much beyond the “meeting invite.” That is one of about 13 items that are needed for effective engagement.  We are funded by PCORI to promote recovery-oriented practices and peer engagement.

Effective health care messaging – much and energy is wasted on “stigma reduction,” or “mental health awareness.” Few of these campaigns even know what their desired outcomes are, let alone whether their efforts are going to reach them. We are working to promote better messaging science for stigma-reduction, suicide prevention, and substance use prevention.

Tobacco and behavioral health advocacy – tobacco is the #2 killer among people with behavioral health issues (psych meds are #1) according to life expectancy data. We are working to train Tobacco Treatment specialists.

Peer Recovery Allies Coalition – Many funders require coalitions and many coalitions behave in ways that don’t work for grassroots advocates. We are working to start our own coalition to qualify for larger grants. We promote “medical harm-aware” advocacy and recovery friendly communities.

Resilience Advocacy – We promote community resilience with the UK method which increases well-being impact of communities. We are trying to stop other coalitions from using the US / ACES method which simply lectures people about trauma neurobiology.

Integration of Physical Health and Mental health – “Diagnostic overshadowing” means that merging physical and behavioral health records exposes our community to discrimination. Doctors are the #1 of stigma in mental health care. Yet few behavioral health integration projects have ever consulted with our community before jamming together health records. Patients are having to be more and more careful who knows about which part of their health care.

Right Care Alliance – All areas of medicine have overuse as well as underuse. We are working with their national coaliton of patient advocates to support the Right Care for the right person at the right time. In mental health, medications and hospitals are overused and peer support, whole health, and life interventions are underused. In substance use recovery, punitive or inpatient approaches are over-used, and peer recovery or community approaches are underused. Nalaxone and medication assisted treatment are also underused for opiod addictions.

Inclusive Addiction Advocacy – many addiction advocates only want to include alchohol and illicit drugs. However, there are many addictive behaviors like gambling or hoarding or sex addiction, and many legal drugs like tobacco, sugar, psych meds, and benzos that are very harmful. Each of these five substances kill more people than opoids.

e-Patient education – a small group of advocates have begun to dominate health care conversations. Many of them are misrepresenting behavioral health issues because they haven’t heard of the recovery movement. We are working with Regina Holliday and Casey Quinlan to spread more effective information into the e-patient community.

Substance Use and suicide prevention – We are looking for advocates currently to work with with regional coalitions to prevent substance use in communities.