A behavioral health retrospective and prescription for change

In his article for the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, John Morris, MSW, executive director of the Annapolis Coalition, uses his own experiences over the past 44 years in the field of human services to discuss the health of our communities. He discusses changes he has seen in the behavioral health workforce, specifically the emergence of consumer directed care, driven by the recognition that people with these conditions can and do recover and should be major players in the recovery of others with the same conditions. Morris also notes areas in which culture must change and offers some guiding principles for the future:

  • At least try. “…whenever… a chance presents itself to move a changed agenda, be ready to take it.”
  • Create demand. “Waiting for academia or government to catalyze change has very poor prospects for return on investment.”
  • Create community. “Engaging like-minded others is one of the only ways to sustain the energy and drive to keep the battle alive.”
  • Use humor. “It is possible to be deeply committed to a cause and pursue it with intense energy (serious), without being overbearing or negative (somber).

The article concludes with Morris recommending three concrete policy action steps which include investing in science-based prevention and community strengthening activities; advocating for ever stronger mechanisms for supporting individuals and their families to guide their own illness management and recovery; and demanding quality in instances in which behavioral health or other human services are required.

More information can be found here.

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