Lessons Learned from Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grants
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Lessons Learned from Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grants Achieving Consumer and Family –Driven Systems and Services. Carol Bianco Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. Albany, NY cbianco@ahpnet.com. Strategies for Engaging Consumers, Family Members and Youth Stakeholders.

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Carol bianco advocates for human potential inc albany ny cbianco ahpnet

Lessons Learned from Mental Health Transformation State Incentive GrantsAchieving Consumer and Family –Driven Systems and Services

Carol Bianco

Advocates for Human Potential, Inc.

Albany, NY


Strategies for engaging consumers family members and youth stakeholders

Strategies for Engaging Consumers, Family Members and Youth Stakeholders


  • Idaho Strategic Plan Goal 6: Provide AUTHENTIC stakeholder participation in the development, implementation and evaluation of the system

  • Transformation must be top down AND bottom up to gain traction and overcome fear and inertia

  • Sustainability – Transformation must transcend administrations

Connecticut s vision statement

Connecticut’s vision statement

Systems transformation efforts must involve at all levels and in all respects the active participation and leadership of people in recovery and their loved ones. Besides offering hope and role models for the possibility of resilience and recovery, this community possesses the primary source of wisdom about recovery. According to the New Freedom Commission vision, individuals in recovery, with service providers, will actively participate in designing and developing the services they need and use

Strategies for engaging consumers family members and youth

Strategies for Engaging Consumers, Family Members and Youth

Transparency and communication

  • Develop a web site and use it vigorously for sharing information and soliciting stakeholder involvement – several states use Facebook, Twitter, Network of Care and various Web 2.0 tools

  • Communicate widely using list-serves, video and teleconferences, town hall meetings.

  • Create lots of tables with lots of seats – expand the circle of people who offer input, move around the state

Strategies for engaging consumers family members and youth1

Strategies for Engaging Consumers, Family Members and Youth

  • Provide orientation, coaching, and debriefing to consumers and family members who participate in committees, advisory groups, etc.

  • Provide material support to promote participation and recognize the value of their contributions (travel expense reimbursement, stipends, child care)

  • Use a multi-faceted approach – embed CFY throughout all activities

Selected state examples

Selected State Examples

  • Washington State

  • Connecticut

  • Hawaii

Wa state

WA State

  • Community Transformation Partnership (CTP) Alliance of all CFY statewide organizations.

  • Toolkits on funding and building sustainable consumer-run organizations

  • News Informants deployed across the state

Washington state

Washington State

Regional Organizing Initiatives (ROIs)


  • Creating and maintaining regional coalitions and partnerships.

  • Influencing policy development.

  • Building leadership capacity.

  • Promoting recovery and wellness.

  • Uniting consumer voices for system change.


  • $15,000 annual grants

  • Special projects to build local buy-in and organizational leadership

Wa state regional organizing initiatives

WA state Regional Organizing Initiatives

Outcomes so far……

  • “Seeds of Change” social networking web site: a portal for employment opportunities, peer counselors, local services and recovery information statewide.

  • Replacing grave markers to identify anonymously buried State Hospital patients and bring dignity to their memories.  

  • Literary publications written by consumers to provide better public understanding of mental illness. 

  • Adult consumers to become certified Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitators

  • Engaged consumers who have not otherwise been involved in community organizing activities

  • Statewide Leadership summit – plan for a statewide entity.

Wa self help empowerment and evaluation alliance sheea

WA Self Help Empowerment and Evaluation Alliance (SHEEA)

Administered mini grants and developed toolkit to directly involve mental health consumersand families in various aspects of evaluation, including:

  • Participating in training and education on evaluation practices (developing surveys or learning interviewing techniques)

  • Developing questions about the extent of program success

  • Defining program oversight and monitoring processes

  • Providing project oversight and evaluation planning

  • Collecting and analyzing data

  • Interpreting evaluation findings

  • Writing reports and presenting findings to key stakeholders



CFY Advisory Council to Transformation Working Group

  • Reviews and approves all budgets and special initiatives

  • Creating Transformation Toolkit to document the transformation process, highlighting those interventions that have been the most effective in promoting a resiliency and recovery-oriented, consumer and family-driven system, and to provide various tools for the ongoing education and empowerment of other consumers, youth.

Ct quality improvement collaborative quic

CT Quality Improvement Collaborative (QuIC)


  • Promotion of choice and self-determination through appropriate, quality mental health services based upon a consumer, family, youth driven performance measurement and continuous quality improvement process.

  • Memorandum of Agreement signed by all statewide Mental Health Advocacy organizations

  • Providers, CYF Organizations and State Agencies formed a Coordinating Center

  • 500 Members enrolled in QuIC

    • 57% Consumers

    • 29% Family Members

    • 15% Youth/Young Adults

  • Developed a set of standards and survey instruments for CFY involvement in quality improvement process adopted by local CMHCs.

  • Developing process to evaluate the quality of recovery/resiliency-oriented mental health services throughout the system.

  • Consumer Research and Evaluation Network is training consumers, youth, and family members in quantitative and qualitative research methods to evaluating other MHT activities.

Ct parent leadership training

CT Parent Leadership Training

A training curriculum on leadership skills was selected, refined, and offered repeatedly throughout the state to the parents of children with emotional/behavioral difficulties.


  • facilitate parents’ increased participation and influence in their child’s treatment team;

  • increase parents' competency in skills necessary for paid and volunteer family advocate roles on behalf of other families and their children; and

  • assist parents in developing skills to shape state policy, thereby moving Connecticut closer to a family-driven system of care.

Connecticut addressing bh workforce shortage and consumer unemployment

Connecticut Recovery Employment Consultation Service (CRECS)

Helps people in recovery from diverse cultural backgrounds obtain employment at all levels of the behavioral health

Received approval as a SSA Ticket to work vendor

Provides employment coaching and consultation to providers

Recovery University

60-hour advanced training and certification program for peer recovery supporters

Upon successful completion of the course and the certification examination, graduates will be state certified as Recovery Support Specialists (RSS)

Connecticut Addressing BH Workforce shortage and consumer unemployment



  • Consumer Youth and Family Alliance - “ Na Hui” - a group of people who come together for a common goal.

    • Alliance of all state Advocacy organizations

  • Regional Hui to engage natural community supports and grow local infrastructure

  • Established Consumer and Family speakers’ bureau

Planning questions given to current transformation sig states

Planning questions given to current Transformation SIG states

  • Consumer-Operated Services: Who will “own” the development of consumer-operated services,? How will the state finance consumer operated services?

  • Statewide Family/Consumer Networks and Youth Organizations: What steps has the state taken to ensure funding for these activities? How is the State addressing the infrastructure development needs, esp. for young or emerging organizations, (i.e., providing linkages to non-profit development resources in the state).

  • Peer Specialists: How is the state working to ensure that peer specialist services are integral to the service delivery system? What about Medicaid reimbursement? How will consumers/family/youth (CFY) continue to be involved in workforce development?

  • Policy and Advisory Boards: Which state agency will take ownership for on-going support of CFY involvement in decision-making and advisory bodies, and what funds are dedicated to support this?

  • Evaluation: How does the state plan to involve CFY in evaluating services and system activities? Which state agency would take ownership of cultivating CFY involvement and how would CFY evaluation work be financed?

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