Consumer, Youth and Family Perspectives
Encouraging and supporting mental health consumers, youth and their families in their unique personal journeys toward recovery and wellness is a priority for the Hogg Foundation. A serious mental illness used to be considered a permanent, disabling condition with no hope of recovery. The belief was that people with a mental health condition like schizophrenia could never get well enough to live normal lives and contribute to their community.
That belief has changed. We now know that people with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive, healthy lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are “cured.” Instead, it means that they have learned to successfully manage their condition and accept themselves, believe in themselves and develop inner strength.
Only people who have been through the process of recovery and wellness themselves or through a family member can know what the experience is like. Their knowledge, experience and perspectives can bring hope to others. They also can identify and advocate for improvements to mental health systems and services.
Through this initiative, the Hogg Foundation is working to increase opportunities for Texas consumers, youth and their families to participate in state and local policy making, grassroots advocacy, design and delivery of mental health services, and peer services and supports.
Consumer and Family Liaisons
The Hogg Foundation’s first step was to hire two consumer and family liaisons in 2008 to bring the perspectives of consumers, youth and family members into the foundation’s grant making, operations and decision-making processes. The liaisons serve as program officers who manage grant programs, conferences and other foundation activities. They also participate in local and state consumer organizations, share their expertise with federal and state agencies, and speak to a variety of organizations on consumer, youth and family mental health topics.
- 2008 news release on hired liaisons
- See feature stories on consumer and family liaisons:
East Texas Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
The Hogg Foundation has launched a pilot program in East Texas to build leadership in mental health, recovery and wellness and to increase consumer and family involvement in the public mental health system. The East Texas Coalition for Mental Health Recovery includes peer specialists and administrators from 12 organizations.
The foundation funded the coalition to develop a strong network of consumers and peer specialists, providers and advocates who are skilled, knowledgeable and trained in recovery, wellness, and consumer, youth and family involvement. Hogg Foundation staff and several coalition members have attended the national Alternatives conference. Alternatives is an annual conference organized by and for mental health consumers.
Via Hope, Texas Mental Health Resource
The Hogg Foundation is collaborating with the Department of State Health Services to provide support to Via Hope as the state’s training and technical assistance center for mental health consumers, family members, providers and youth. Mental Health America of Texas and NAMI Texas, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, launched Via Hope in 2009 with funding from the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of the Texas Mental Health Transformation Project. The Hogg Foundation granted additional funds to Via Hope in 2010 to expand the scope of work they were able to accomplish.
One of the largest initiatives for Via Hope is training and certification for peer specialists, people in recovery from mental illness who want to help others with their recovery. People who complete the training and become certified are eligible for jobs as certified peer specialists in health care centers, residential treatment facilities, state hospitals and other places that serve consumers.
To help bring peers into the traditional mental health system, the Recovery Institute was created and is helping to transform the Texas mental health system into a system that expects and supports recovery.
Additionally, Via Hope has developed and implemented a Family Partner Training and Certification initiative. A family partner is a parent of a child with mental health issues who has learned to navigate the mental health system and can share that knowledge and experience with another parent.
Another focus area for Via Hope has been investigating how to bring peer support into the world of youth, including Transition Age Youth ages 14-24 that may be lost in the transition between the children’s and adult’s mental health systems.
Emphasis on Consumer, Youth and Family Involvement
The Hogg Foundation has changed its grantmaking criteria to include consumer, youth and family involvement. Grant proposals must include a solid plan for involving consumers, youth and family members from beginning to end of the grant project. The result has been greater awareness among respondents of the value consumers, youth and family members can bring to organizations.
East Texas Conference on Recovery and Wellness
The 2010 biennial Robert Lee Sutherland Seminar focused on recovery, wellness and involving consumers, youth and family in mental health systems and services. Members of the East Texas Coalition for Mental Health Recovery spoke to the audience about their experiences at the national Alternatives conference. They also attended a working lunch session with fellow peer specialists from Austin State Hospital.
- Read feature story about the conference.
National Advisory Council Members
In 2009 the Hogg Foundation appointed two nationally known leaders and experts in the consumer movement to serve on its National Advisory Council. The 10-member council provides guidance and expertise to foundation staff on matters related to strategic planning, major grant initiatives and other projects and activities.
- 2009 news release on National Advisory Council appointments