Advocating for appropriate community treatment for consumers of mental health services is an important activity of NAMI-GBA. Over the past year, the six members of the Family Advisory Committee have met regularly with some of the administration and staff at the Center for Behavioral Health. These meetings are to discuss concerns that family members have expressed about the policies and procedures of the Center. This committee was an outgrowth of the Family-to-Family classes, which have been taught the past few years in Bloomington.
The emphasis of these meetings has been on the important role that family members play in the successful treatment of their loved ones. Although hampered by federal and state regulations with regard to confidentiality, the meetings have tried to find ways that vital information can be shared. Family members are often the primary caregivers and need to communicate with Center professionals in order to provide effective support.
Using information gained from the Family-to-Family classes, the committee has suggested additional services that the Center might provide its clients to monitor the effects of their psychotropic medications. Discussions have also centered on the overall health of clients, including the effects of smoking, diet, and exercise, and what the Center could additionally do to incorporate these in the treatment approach.
The staff of the Center have also shared their problems concerning funding, state and federal mandates, and recruiting and maintaining highly qualified staff. Committee members have assisted with lobbying efforts in support of legislation to improve the delivery of mental health services in the community.