Forum of Experts Envisions Mental Health System Transformation

Forum of Experts Envisions Mental Health System Transformation










Hudson, OH (PRWEB) May 27, 2006

Experts from throughout Northeast Ohio gathered Wednesday, May 3rd to create a roadmap for a transformed regional mental health system. The forum brought together over 60 leaders of state, regional, local and community mental health organizations to discuss the direction of mental health services in Northeast Ohio. The forum concluded with next steps to improve the region’s mental health systems.

“We’ve gathered experts to help identify the first steps in transforming the mental health system in Northeast Ohio,” said Suzanne Morgan, Chairman of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. “Professionals in the mental health field have a real passion for the work they’re doing and we want to tap into that passion.”

The featured speakers were Dr. Michael Hogan, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, and Justice Evelyn Stratton of the Ohio Supreme Court. Dr. Hogan served as the chairman of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He gave a presentation on the “A New Day” initiative for mental health in Ohio. The New Day initiative is a system of integrated services and collaboration across medical, social and mental health care disciplines, designed to make recovery and resiliency possible for those suffering from mental illness.

“We’ve come so far in the last 25 years in providing treatment, motivation, and support to consumers,” said Dr. Hogan. “Recovery and resiliency are now expected outcomes, but the system is still highly decentralized. We need to build bridges to cooperate and collaborate.”

Justice Stratton described her experiences with the intersecting mental health and criminal justice systems. She has assembled a grassroots organization of over 50 community members, working together to make a difference in the mental health system. She challenged participants to collaborate and cooperate, set aside territory distinctions, assign tasks and deadlines at every meeting, and keep the goal in mind.    

“I’ve been working in the criminal justice system for years, and unfortunately I see the same scenario time after time,” said Justice Stratton. “Someone with an undiagnosed mental illness is sentenced to jail for committing a crime. While serving the sentence, the inmate is diagnosed as schizophrenic. Then years later, they’re released with $ 75 and two weeks’ worth of medication. My group is working to improve the resources they have access to so they won’t end up back in the criminal justice system.”

The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation hosted the forum as the first step to mental health system transformation. The Foundation was founded in 2001 in Hudson, Ohio as a private, grant-making foundation serving mental health, education, and arts causes in Northeast Ohio. For more information, visit http://www.mcmorganfoundation.org.

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