The Revolution Will Be in the Mind

Roy Wilkins, former NAACP president.
Image via Wikipedia
Issues in Mental Health Nursing
Image via Wikipedia

I was not at yesterday’s NAACP Summit, that Eugene Kane wrote about in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I was conducting my own summit at work. But I feel there is a strong connection between the work that I do and the realization of the goals of the NAACP.

I am often one of the usual suspects one finds sitting down to discuss issues in our community. But in recent years I have turned my attention to my (not so little) area of change, mental health. I conduct a summit each day on transitioning from a mental health system that is overly dependent on emergency care to one in which people live independently in the community. People who formerly lived in group homes take care of apartments, meet with peer support, hold jobs and contribute to our society.

The funding for these programs is derived from Milwaukee County and the taxpayers should be proud. It is a much wiser use of scarce resources to have people blend into our neighborhood.  People have decent affordable housing with help from the government. I feel that every day I make a difference in  their lives. Take yesterday, for example. I co-facilitated a discussion about introversion versus extraversion and the Big 5 personality traits.  My co-facilitator and I are both introverted and our goal was to help people understand that introversion has many positive aspects. We used an article from as our source material and engaged people in a lively discussion.

One of the discussion group participants gave me a copy of his Readers Digest which included a quote from a famous philosopher Chris Rock. “Let me get this straight. We invaded a country with oil but gas is now more expensive. Now I didn’t go to no fancy school of nothing but if I invade Kentucky Fried Chicken, wings will be cheap at my house.”

Afterwards, I helped someone apply for assistance from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. There’s a job training program he would like to enter. He’s a very talented artist whose work was exhibited at the NAMI Creativity Heals event the night before. NAMI, which stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness, helps fight stigma by highlighting  the artistic talents of people who are living with mental illness.

Mental illness presents a unique set of challenges for everyone. It can rob years off your life and take with it the joy of a warm winter day. But recovery can mean friendship, hope and place in the community.  So I’m not sorry I couldn’t attend the NAACP Summit, because my own summit was just as satisfying. Our revolution takes place in the mind.

English: Elisabeth Freeman
Image via Wikipedia

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