Stephany Bryan: Our Thanks for a Warm Welcome and an Open Mind
April 7, 2010
Lufkin Daily News
More than 300 people gathered at Stephen F. Austin University on March 12 for Mission Possible: Advancing the Benefits of Change, a
regional conference about mental health sponsored by 11 community organizations.
My colleague Vicky Coffee-Fletcher and I joined them on behalf of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Austin. Why would we travel from Austin to Nacogdoches for a regional conference on mental health? Because the foundation was established by Miss Ima Hogg and her brothers to improve mental health in Texas, and we’ve been doing just that for 70 years through outreach, grants, scholarships, policy, research and education.
Today, a key priority for the foundation is involving adult and youth consumers of mental health services and their families in mental health planning, policy and treatment. We believe mental health services in Texas will improve if consumers, youth and family have a seat at the table and an active role in designing the way those services are delivered.
We also believe people with mental health conditions can achieve recovery and wellness, meaning they can lead productive lives and contribute to their communities. Research shows this is especially true for people who play an active role in designing their treatment and access to support and information about their illness. You can find lots of information about recovery and wellness online – a good place to begin is the National Empowerment Center at www.power2u.org.
The Hogg Foundation hosted a comfort room at the Mission Possible conference to engage consumers, youth and family and talk about recovery and wellness. People can experience stress or discomfort in busy, unfamiliar surroundings, such as a large conference. Comfort rooms provide sanctuary – a quiet place where people can take a break from the crowds and noise of a large event. Visitors can choose to talk quietly or enjoy solitude. Amenities might include comfortable chairs, soothing music, reading materials, puzzles and games, stuffed animals, and healthy snacks and water.
In the comfort room we met consumers, family members, advocates, service providers, community leaders, educators and students – people from all walks of life with an interest in mental health. We listened to people talk about their experiences, and we shared information about important developments in mental health – especially the growing recognition that recovery and wellness is possible for people with mental health conditions.
Most of all, we enjoyed the warm welcomes, positive attitudes and open minds of East Texas residents. Thank you for a wonderful experience.
Stephany Bryan is a program officer and consumer and family liaison with the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Austin, Texas.