Saturday, July 4, 2009

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KUNM-FM Mail Rogi Riverstone

De Baca Co. consumers' needs
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Rogi Riverstone Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 12:53 PM


As I'm not sure which addresses are whose, would you mind sending the following message to LC 10 participants in De Baca County, either by email or USPS, as necessary? It is particularly important that consumers receive it. Thanks!


Last week, I had a meeting with two consumers from Las Vegas, NM. Here's a website about them:

We discussed the feasibility of a behavioral health drop in center for Fort Sumner. We agreed that the Village is not yet ready for such a center -- although it needs one very badly.

The primary reason for this is that De Baca County consumers are not yet organized enough, although we certainly can be, with some commitment, time and patience. The by product of this is that there is still too much ignorance and stigmatisation of behavioral health issues here to expect much community support right now. Also, we don't yet have the person power to provide needed services that could be supplied by such a center. And we don't have enough familiarity and experience with each other to know whose talents and skills can do what.

We discussed a remedy to this: begin organizing behavioral health consumers as soon as possible, so we can begin educating ourselves and our fellow citizens on behavioral health issues, resources, needs and problem solving in the county.

As a result, I've met with three consumers this week. We all have energy for organizing and had very productive preliminary discussions. We have agreed we need the following from De Baca County LC 10 core to begin.

First, consumers need to meet on our own. We need to discuss our needs and concerns amongst ourselves, with our own agenda. We feel more comfortable talking with each other without the presence of providers and family members. It's not that we don't respect them or want to work with them in the broader BHPC LC 10. We need an atmosphere in which our agenda is of primary concern. We need not to have to worry about how someone else might interpret what we say, therefore remaining silent. We need meetings that focus primarily on us, not what the state, providers, family members or anybody else finds important. We need to decide what we think is important. After all, "behavioral heath" is about us.

Historically, consumers have often had to acquiesce to the agendas of providers and family members. In the most extreme cases, we have needed their approval for our very survival. We have learned not to speak up for ourselves, lest we -- especially unintentionally -- alienate, offend or anger providers and family members who might either withdraw support or punish us if they feel threatened by our assertions of independent thought or accidentally suspect our motives.

We need to speak freely among ourselves. We already do this , between meetings. We feel a sense of frustration that the focus of many meetings is not on our concerns and implementation of solutions to our problems.

This is particularly true in a small village, where we are so vulnerable to the whims and agendas of a very small group of "authorities" who can exert power over us. If we alienate one source of support, there aren't many or, often, any other alternatives to which we can turn in the Village.

We propose that these be the meetings at which consumers are paid stipends. This would provide incentive to new people who attend and defray their costs and inconvenience.

There is precedence for this. The Las Vegas, NM consumers meet independently of their collaborative, and send several consumer representatives to their LC. These representatives are scheduled as a regular agenda item in the monthly meetings. They bring their needs, concerns and proposed solutions before the larger body. And they report back to the consumer meeting what occurs in the collaborative meeting. That way, every consumer doesn't have to sit through agenda items in which they may not choose -- or be able -- to participate; they know they'll have a place, time and opportunity in which they can focus on their concerns primarily. We could also arrange these meetings in venues that are accessible and comfortable for us and, as necessary, accomodate people whose participation might be limited to telephone or internet access because they won't be attending in person.

Second, I am applying for training as a Peer Specialist. Another person is interested in applying, too. The two other people with whom I spoke this week are not interested in committing to training, for very good reasons. But they support us in being trained. One is a life-long resident of the village who is far more appropriate to discuss such intimate and intimidating issues as behavioral health, one-on-one, with village residents than I. I have skills in public presentations, but would probably be seen as an outsider in personal conversations. We have agreed that I can teach what I've learned from my training to others such as this person, so people more suited to these conversations have the skills they want in order to be supportive.

Lastly, we need the BHPC LC10 computer online and ready for use. Some of us have no computers. We need to receive and send applications, correspondence, email, faxes, letters, scanned documents and attachments into and out of the Village. The public library is extremely problematic; several of us have not been treated well there. And the BHPC LC 10 computer was purchased exactly for this reason. Some of us don't want passers by in a public place to see what websites we're researching; we need quiet, privacy and minimal distraction and interruptions. This needs to happen immediately.

We'll want to access the computer sometimes for meetings, too, so we can show each other online resources.

Since the mental health clinic closed and the computer has been serviced, we have no idea where it is now or how to access it. We also need that printer nobody can find, or a replacement. I may know of one we can get for the cost of shipping it here. We'll need a scanner, access to a fax machine, postage and printing. We'll need access to office supplies for mailings, fliers, etc.

We have a good base of experienced consumers who have attended LC 10 meetings for awhile now. We know what the LC 10 is and how it operates. We are ready to begin proactive recruitment, organizing, problem solving, networking, resource accessing and, sooner than later, funding for our projects.

Jesse Chavez might be able to assist us in a good portion of initiating the consumer meetings, or can direct LC 10 to the tools we'll need to actualize this. He can contact Las Vegas' LC for details on consumer meetings. The website I've cited provides contact information.

We consumers are willing and able now to roll up our sleeves and get to work, initiating projects for our needs. Let's get started.
Rogi Riverstone

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