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SAMHSA News - January/February 2007, Volume 15, Number 1


Mental Health Resources Help Build Bridges

As part of its commitment to transform mental health care in America, SAMHSA recently released new resources on primary care, criminal justice, and self-direction related to mental health.

SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), has released two publications from the Building Bridges series for consumers and treatment professionals. In addition, three new fact sheets are available to provide basic information for ongoing dialogues.

Because transformation at both the personal and systems levels depends on relationships and connections between people, CMHS sponsors dialogues that allow consumers, stakeholders, and advocates in mental health fields to share their personal and professional experiences. These meetings take place with the ultimate goal of forging recommendations that foster recovery models for consumers of mental health services.

“Our goal is to stimulate a national dialogue about the very real possibility of recovery from even the most serious mental illnesses, particularly when consumers are at the center of decision-making and care,” said CMHS Director A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed.

The Building Bridges series includes reports of these CMHS dialogue meetings, which examine approaches that affect both personal and mental health systems transformation. During the dialogues, participants discuss their experiences, identify factors that promote and hinder recovery, and offer recommendations to overcome obstacles in order to improve opportunities for individuals to recover.

Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Primary Health Care Representatives in Dialogue discusses the findings of a 2-day meeting between mental health consumers and primary care representatives, including service providers, researchers, and policymakers. Topics discussed at the meeting included the availability, affordability, and quality of medical and mental health services; the synergistic relationship between physical health and mental health; and crosstraining for providers in primary care and mental health care.

Building Bridges: Consumers and Representatives of the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems in Dialogue provides consumers, service providers, advocates, policymakers, and representatives from both systems with an understanding of issues that mental health consumers experience in the criminal justice system. These include diversion from incarceration to treatment, prevention of incarceration for people with mental illnesses, and community re-entry efforts. Risk factors—at both the consumer level and the systems level—that can promote or hinder recovery from mental illnesses are also presented.

In addition, with the release of the Mental Health and Self-Direction Fact Sheets, SAMHSA has provided an overview of several key principles. Specifically, the fact sheets focus on promoting consumer choice and control of the services and supports that advance recovery—critical elements in the process of transforming America’s mental health care system—as well as approaches to implementing these principles.

Both publications in the Building Bridges series are available online on SAMHSA’s Web site. Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Primary Health Care Representatives in Dialogue can be accessed at http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/sma06-4040. Building Bridges: Consumers and Representatives of the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems in Dialogue is available at http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/sma05-4067.

These publications and fact sheets are available free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s National Mental Health Information Center at 1 (800) 789-2647 or 1 (866) 889-2647 (TDD).

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