The road from serious mental illness to recovery and wellness is a rocky one, where things can often go wrong with the care system. Because of the high vulnerability of the ill person to stress, anxiety, ambivalence and secondary symptoms of the illnesses, simply negotiating the complex mental health delivery system may become an almost impossible task. The result is that some people may not receive needed services. If the ill person in your life has service related problems, it's generally a good idea to begin addressing the situation at the most immediate level. If you feel that they are underserved, talk to their case manager, and, if that fails to resolve the problem, contact the supervisor or Community Rehabilitation and Treatment (CRT) coordinator. Major problems may require the attention of the executive director of your local Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) or the chairperson or president of its board of directors. You may also call the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health. Here are some telephone numbers and addresses of Vermont government agencies.
Some of the strongest mental health centers have been led into progressive change by the advocacy of families whose loved ones have been afflicted by serious mental illness. If service providers tell you there is not enough money available to provide the needed services, then attend local CMHC board of directors' budget meetings and learn about the allocation process, and contact your local legislators. Help make your local CMHC as strong as it can reasonably be.
Families need to know how to be effective in getting help for a seriously mentally ill relative. They need to know what questions to ask, what people to see and where to go.
Learn how to be an Effective Advocate
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