Congress asks HHS to include trauma survivors and mental health consumers as leaders
Members of Congress' Victims' Rights Caucus and Mental Health Caucus sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to express their support for the continued inclusion of trauma survivor and mental health consumer leadership in publicly funded programs and services. "Involving survivors and consumers as leaders not only improves our programs and services, but it supports the involvement of those with personal knowledge and life experience to address the health risks that impact quality and length of life," the members stated in the letter.
As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) moves toward a more integrated approach, the members specifically ask for:
- "Inclusion of survivor, consumer and family in discussion, development, implementation and assessment of programs and in leadership at HHS as a clearly stated and supported goal. This should be added to the existing SAMHSA Strategic Initiatives."
- "The development of a national plan that provides thoughtful recommendations and measurable approaches to consumer and survivor inclusion and leadership at the federal and state levels."
- "A meeting or roundtable discussion, facilitated by the Consumer Affairs Division of the Center for Mental Health Services, that includes Secretary Sebelius, Administrator Hyde, consumer/survivors and other interested organizations to discuss the importance of health care reform that includes efforts to implement trauma-informed and consumer-driven system of care. The meeting should facilitate distinct action items for consumer and survivor networks, states and SAMHSA to support."
- "The inclusion of an Office of Consumer Affairs at all State Departments of Health, where consumer and survivor inclusion is reinforced throughout the state via block grant and other mechanisms. These offices should also demonstrate consumer leadership (not just inclusion or having them "at the table"), as a part of their federal funding requirement."
- "The involvement of consumers, survivors and families in SAMHSA's efforts to bridge mental health and substance abuse by involving them as speakers and facilitators in Webinars, national teleconferences and meetings. SAMHSA should consider the importance of the consumer voice in public education, particularly as SAMHSA intends to fit these interest under "behavioral health," and this change, along with the many that stem from healthcare reform, need to be explained and understood by the American people."