Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thoughts from a Kentucky Mental Health & Prison Reform Advocate – how do we measure our progress?

By: Maggie Krueger, guest blog post

Recently, while helping our daughter with her science homework, I was reminded of the simple equation for work done.

Work Done = Force X Distance.

If a force is exerted but no distance moved then no work has been done.

We may feel very fatigued pushing against that which we have tried to move, but energy was only expended within our own bodies with no result.

This seems to sum up a lot of what I have been feeling lately regarding my participation in various advocacy activities. Much time is given (texting, phone calls, attending meetings, driving great distances across the state, educating myself by reading articles, serving on boards, etc.) But how do I determine if any work has been done? I feel fatigued; as I'm sure most do in trying to move this mountain of prejudice against our loved ones. Do I see results from this fatigue? How would I measure it? In the number of Facebook groups I belong to or the friends I have? Should I concentrate on the number of meetings I've attended, miles driven - all measurable.

I think I need to measure with the end in mind: what reduction has there been in police shootings of the seriously mentally ill? What mental health treatment are prisoners given? 

What is the reduction of people with mental illness in our court system? We can start by getting Crises Intervention Training, (CIT) training for our law enforcement officers     but how do we measure the results?

I need to look at numbers and feel accomplishment in the fatigue I am feeling.

NOTE: Maggie is a tireless advocate for those with brain diseases, we refer to as “the voiceless” – the ones who often end up trapped in the justice system, in homeless shelters and abandoned by the broken behavioral health system. Maggie is currently the President of NAMI Somerset, volunteers for the Kentucky State Interagency Council (SIAC); the Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Planning and Advisory Council; serves on the Board of Directors for Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children, is a certified Family Peer Support Specialist, participant on the NAMI Kentucky Advocacy Advisory Committee and the steering committee for the homeless initiative in Somerset. Wow, small wonder Maggie is tired. If Kentucky had more advocates like Maggie, who actually walks the walk and not only talks the talk … we’d make changes in moving the mountain sooner. GG Burns

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