This morning I was feeling pretty off center. After I wrote that post in the morning I sat here for a while thinking about my future, and what I wanted to do with myself. I needed a way to express my intentions, and aspirations for the time that I still have left. I resolved to channel that into something tangible, a project proposal I will shop around to the various nonprofits in town, starting with NAMI Sacramento. I spent an hour and a half pouring my intellect, talents and projected hopes into this, and brought a copy up to NAMI today. Both the lead project coordinator and executive director have it now. I honestly don’t know what will come of that, but it should be clear I am serious about grassroots activism and community awareness. My goal is to reduce taxpayer burden on public service and misuse of police resources handling issues that should be handled in the household, or surrounding community. We have to stop ignoring the issue of mental illness and start facing it down. Too many people are dying, lying homeless in the streets because we won’t look this issue straight in the eye. Now, in this time of ever increasing stakes, we need a voice of reason to help bring the focus back to where it belongs, on our home street. We either survive as a community, or we perish alone in our houses, isolated from each other with no one to save us.
I have included the full proposal I wrote below for your review. Just to provide you with some context, one of the larger challenges in this area has been activating minority communities in areas of need in terms of rendering mental illness services. Instead of burdening the system with providing care to indigent populations or others, emphasis should be returned to the individuals living in the community to be aware and mobilize to protect themselves and their environment. The motivation for this is common sense driven. The fact that we expect the police or county medical services to be the fail safe has resulted in many deaths, a huge swath of neglect, and a problem of deteriorating health and homeliness that is not improving but worsening. The status quo is failing, and now we need to really dig into why that is happening, and address a clear area of need. Bringing education to individuals will restore peace to households, change perspectives, eliminate stigma and reverse the trend of the mentally ill being scorned and relegated to the fringes of society. To restore peace to our streets, and safety in our homes, we must realize what we face, and learn about how we can better coexist with it. Opposition only leads to strife and death. The days of mental illness claiming the lives of those who have it are nearing an end, and my program aims to be the start of a new-wave of mental illness comprehension and treatment.
PROPOSAL: NEW COMMUNITY-BASED OUTREACH/AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
PROJECT: Stronger Communities through Awareness, Leadership and Education (SCALE)
Westin Eric Bailey
Peer Support Specialist
Synopsis: In light of the need for ongoing education and awareness of mental illness (and community impacts of) in many minority and disadvantaged communities, I propose to develop a program that will deliver a series of presentations designed to make common-sense arguments for improved mental health awareness at several (initially) communities of need in the Sacramento area. This process is divided into sections in order to properly create an effective outreach tool given the unique requirements of the various constituents of the areas in question. With my background in developing advanced educational materials and my vivacious, effusive and welcoming public speaking persona, I propose a fully-interactive experience that will help to make mental health awareness something a community can become proactive about. The objective would be to inspire individual communities to take charge of activism, assess need internally and begin to understand how the individuals in their community who suffer the symptoms of mental illness can achieve safety and stability through a new comprehension of the illness itself. The project, if implemented, will reduce the workload of police, county facilities and other government provided health care for the indigent.
Phase 1 – Assessment: The first stage of the project would be to gather information from new and existing minority community leaders by conducting detailed interviews and asking questions designed to assess the needs of a given local population. Once a sufficient amount of information is gathered, the project would then assess where the program would be most effective, likely given a limited number of opportunities for presentation. The program would then develop presentations designed for each audience in the selected communities across the area, so that each would be able to directly relate to the content being presented (drawing an emphasis to how close mental illness is within their own community, whether or not it is acknowledged openly).
Phase 2 – Trials: Program can be developed for 1 target community as a “first draft” implementation of the presentation to assess if the model functions as intended. If the focus of the program is successfully interpreted, information will be gathered from program participants to determine what areas need to be improved in the presentation in order for it to be more effective. Once this stage is completed, the objective would be to begin to promote, and go door-to-door providing information to communities in need. Additional implementations on a single-community basis may be needed to provide additional feedback. This stage must be collectively certified by the leadership in order to proceed with implementation.
Phase 3 – Outreach and Awareness: This stage would provide, in advance of scheduling presentations beyond the series of trials, a campaign on social media, TV, Radio and physically taking place in the communities where it is hoped a presentation would be held. The information provided to the populations across the city would specify that the objective is to provide real concrete resources for emergency situations, answer individual questions and provide a tailored product for their community and its unique needs. Outreach will proceed the opportunity to present, and should begin to alert the community well in advance to the presentation and associated resources that will be given out.
Phase 4 – Continuation: Program’s ongoing success will be dependent on constant adaptation, revision, and improvement through a long-term creative process over the period of time in which funding is available. A team of individuals can (permitting resources) eventually be developed to do the community assessments, interviews and design educational materials themselves, helping to spread the program farther out across the counties in the area, to any community in need. A leadership structure can then be developed to help maintain oversight and spread the effectiveness of the educational outreach to any community that requests it.
Conclusion: With a captivating personality and presentation style, I intend to forward my enthusiasm for mental health awareness and take a common sense approach to living beside people who are mentally ill, and how they all can thrive together. Making the poorest, most disadvantaged populations aware of this internal-crisis of neglect is essential. We intend to provide them with logical, easily comprehensible solutions and resources at all junctures, which will have a huge impact on all individuals in surrounding communities (if not by word-of-mouth but also by improved conditions). If communities can begin to take individual responsibility for their mentally ill, there will be fewer times a not properly trained police officer is called to deal with someone in a mental health crisis. There will be less need for people to be dependent on county resources if individuals are being assisted by their communities and families. The only thing this program can do, is help people understand what mental illness is, and how to handle it when it is a local issue. We are going to take fear and stigma out of the myriad cultural misconceptions and reduce the issue of community mental illness down to the simple practicalities: Taking care of it themselves means fewer people will accidentally be hurt, die, or be forgotten; otherwise diminishing the integrity/perception of the surrounding community. I do believe that once the program is developed, the effects will be wide-reaching. This program, if funded, can save the city and surrounding county governments lost time and resources that will no longer need to be dedicated to addressing mentally ill individuals who have no place else to go.