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Recovery Forums

MBHP Presents "Cultivating Recovery and Wellness in Behavioral Health: A Cross Cultural Perspective"

MBHP collaborated with The Transformation Center, the Massachusetts statewide consumer organization, in November to present forums that demonstrated the interconnectedness of wellness, recovery, culture, and health integration. Here is what some attendees had to say:
  • This is an excellent forum. It made me hopeful that we can take a holistic approach toward helping people heal on all levels.

  • I learned something from every trainer. We don?t have enough of these positive trainings focused on resiliency and success? Primary care integration is really essential to identifying mental illness early.

  • Deeply moving, effective, inspiring, valuable. I absorbed ideas and concepts that will enrich my program, practice and life.

  • Helped me to maintain hope for those in the deepest, darkest places to soar to freedom and recovery.

  • I not only learned strategies and technical matter, but it all was embedded in an atmosphere of inspiration!!

The forums continue MBHP's more than ten-year commitment to present trainings that includes service providers, service users, peer workers, and families. Over 300 people attended the two forums. "MBHP has always been ahead of the curve as far as working with consumer organizations and helping us to grow and professionalize," said Deborah Delman, executive director of  The Transformation Center, the statewide consumer organization that provides technical assistance to consumer and provider projects and trainings, as well as training and administering peer certification in Mass.

"The Rehab and Recovery Department here at MBHP has been building collaborations with people with lived experience of mental health conditions since 1998," said Clara Carr, director of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Department. "Since I became the department director in 2003, we have empowered and professionalized consumer-led training of peers, service providers, and our own staff. We are known for providing groundbreaking and worthwhile events and trainings that challenge us all to increase our expertise and the usefulness and tap into the resulting cost-effectiveness of the work we do."

The forums presenter Gayathri Ramprasad, MBA, CPS, once described as "a one-woman hurricane of hope," presented her recovery journey in the context of diverse cultural value systems and power differentials. A panel discussion featured Alexander Blount, PhD, who coined the term "integrated primary care" in 1994 and works with providers to foster behavioral health and primary care provider collaborations. Marco Gonzalez, CPS, presented in American Sign Language about his recovery and wellness work as a peer specialist with others who are deaf or hard of hearing. Chris Gordon, MD, offered a a four-part model that he uses in his practice as a psychiatrist to ensure that all the important domains of a person's life are addressed in the psychiatric visit. The domains are (1) social: is the person being discriminated against or isolated, for example; (2) biological: what are the person's physical issues impacting wellness and recovery; (3) psychological: is past baggage that is holding the person back; and (4) spiritual: how and where does the person find meaning in his/her life?

"MBHP has always been about partnership. This is the culture here in Massachusetts," said Nancy Lane, MBHP executive director. "We have developed many, many innovations through our partnerships, including the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP) and the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI). The Rehabilitation and Recovery Department, all this time, has added value through building peer collaborations and infrastructures for excellence in the integration of recovery and wellness."

Previous Forums

For 10 years, the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership and The Transformation Center (formerly M-POWER, Inc.) have collaborated to offer recovery trainings to service providers. These trainings are organized by The Transformation Center, an organization of people with lived experience of mental health recovery, and presented by subject matter experts who are also mainly people with the lived experience.

The FY 2011 training series is the third year that the two organizations have collaborated to offer three regional Recovery Forums that target MBHP providers and are promoted widely to all members of the recovery community. The goal of the 2011 forums was to promote knowledge, understanding, and skills for addressing the connections between physical health, behavioral health, and overall wellness. Held in Waltham, Sturbridge, and Brockton, the forums featured the following nationally renowned presenters:

  • Larry Fricks, deputy director, SAMHSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions; Founder, Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network; featured in the bestseller Strong at the Broken Places (Waltham forum)
  • Tonier Cain, team leader, National Center for Trauma Informed Care; featured in the documentary Behind Closed Doors: Trauma Survivors and the Psychiatric System (Waltham forum)
  • Peggy Swarbrick, PhD, CPRP, director, Institute on Wellness & Recovery Initiatives, New Jersey; assistant faculty, NJ University of Medicine (Sturbridge forum)
  • Candice Tate, PhD, president, National Coalition on Mental Health and Deaf Individuals; ASL therapist; consultant in organizational design and culture (Sturbridge forum)
  • Debbie Andersen, consultant, Maryland Mental Health Transformation Incentive Grant; advanced facilitator and trainer, Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery (Brockton forum)
  • Margarita Alegrķa, PhD, director, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Cambridge Health Alliance; professor of psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Brockton forum)

  • All three forums addressed the main topic, "The Wellness Path to Recovery: Integrating Physical and Mental Health." Trauma recovery and trauma-informed care were the focus at the Waltham forum, a highlight for many in the audience. Information about the health care delivery system was helpful to people at the Brocton forum. The topic of linguistic competency in terms of both deaf/hard of hearing culture and Spanish-speaking communities was a strong theme in Sturbridge.

    The forums were attended by service providers, administrators, clinicians, certified peer specialists, and peer workers, as well as other peers, service recipients, and family members. CEUs were provided for nurses, mental health counselors, family therapists, social workers, alcohol and addictions counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and psychologists.

    Comments from attendees:
    "This [forum] had a great impact on me and I will bring [this information] back to others. I just want to say thank you. I leave here with a new energy."

    "Excellent! Excellent! The best training I have been to in years. It was motivational and not the same ol', same ol'."

    "Knowledgeable, passionate, engaging, effective"

    "This is one of the best forums that I have ever attended. Larry Fricks gave concrete, practical information that can be put to use. Tonier Cain was an inspiration and will always make me ask, 'what happened to you.' Continue with these types of forums."

    "Wonderful info. Candace Tate is awesome."

    Click here for a summary of previous recovery forums.

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    This page was last updated: 12/8/2011