Community support has promising results
A recent News article was disheartening for people with serious mental illness who end up in the criminal justice system, which is no surprise. The solution, however, is not a knee-jerk reaction that says these individuals should go back to state psychiatric hospitals instead.
Peer programs, like Mental Health Peer Connection, have been addressing this issue for 20 years, meeting the needs of this demographic through peer-to-peer relations and programming, with minimal funding. In 2014 alone, our agency has made a positive impact through ongoing recovery support to hundreds of men and women who have been diagnosed with mental health challenges and have criminal backgrounds and do not pose a threat to our community.
The supports Peer Connection provides are part of the solution of getting people out of jail, working and living in a home of their own, which entails developing relationships, developing relapse prevention plans and encouraging people to do what works best for them, which reduces the likelihood of recidivism.
Do readers know that fewer than 3 percent of people with mental illness are violent? Why aren’t recovery stories and positive examples highlighted in The News? We are also concerned about the stigma that this article presents. More funding needs to be allocated to assist in providing positive outcomes through peer support, a successful evidenced-based practice and viable option that offers a successful model of care.
Western New York Independent Living