What would it be like if those with mental health issues were affirmed, rather than defined as somehow deficient? If seeking help meant being told you were an ordinary person coping with exceptional circumstances instead of somehow flawed what would be the experience? If the mental health system was less about management and more about transformation what would it look like?
First of all it would have to affect changes in the wider culture and not just the mental health system. The mental health system is very much a product of the context in which it operates.
What does a community look like that is supportive of those with mental health issues? Some of the things that occur to me are:
Access to resources which offer effective treatment.
Resources to get adequate primary medical care.
Media which does not sensationalize mental health issues, or denigrate those who suffer with mental health issues as somehow being of less value.
Support groups, classes, other living groups which give access to the experience of others dealing with similiar issues and information about coping strategies.
Final say in decisions about their own life.
Access to a faith community which does not perceive their issues as an indication of lack or faith and welcomes them as a vital and wanted member of their community.
An educated work environment where they do not have to fear that anyone finding out about their issues or diagnosis will put them in personal danger.
An organized effort to deal with the issue of suicide and to make sure that no one dies because their needs have been unheard or their voice not listened to.
An effort to provide adequate mental health services to those in jails and an effort to make sure that mental illness not result in someone going to jail.
An effort to meet the mental health needs of the homeless in their community.
Access to and existence of opportunities for socialization and having fun.
A voice in the development of the mental health system in their community. They need a “voice in the room”.