Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Patient Driven Recovery

As a board member and treasurer for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, I had the privilege to represent PRA at the 29th Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy this past November at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.The symposium, chaired by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, was organized around three major areas essential to achieving the goal of increasing access to affordable, high-quality mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA): outreach and enrollment, access to care, and service delivery.

I was very pleased to find that some of the most relevant discussion at the conference centered on the importance of peer specialists within the context of the ACA. At the WellPower, our Peer Mentors, a group of paid part-time employees in their own recovery, work with other consumers on a peer-to-peer basis to support them. Conference participants also spoke extensively about the importance of community mental health, which includes services such as supported employment and other important recovery focused services. These services will continue to be of crucial importance as the ACA is implemented.

Psychiatric rehabilitation is, of course, a hallmark of the work at the WellPower and is crucial to our mission of Enriching lives and minds by focusing on strengths and recovery. Through our NextChapter in Employment and Education programs, we are assisting the people we work with to engage in work, educational advancement and artistic and cultural activities that stimulate their minds, promote full community integration and improve their quality of life. The key is to help them explore and gain success and satisfaction in the living, working, learning, and social environments of their choice.

I am confident that psychiatric rehabilitation – and the whole spectrum of services that the community mental health system provides – will continue to play a crucial role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The success of our consumers depends on it.