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Friday, March 7, 2014

Mental Health Advocacy Calls Needed March 7 in Illinois

as shared by our colleagues at Access Living of Chicago ...

Dear Access Living friends and allies,
Today, our friends in the mental health advocacy community need our help.  One of the most effective ways to promote mental health in the community is for people to work with a certified recovery support specialist (CRSS). CRSSes have lived the experience of mental illness and are rigorously and intensively trained to offer peer support and services.  They have been shown to be highly effective in crisis management and in assisting people with mental illness to self-manage that illness and other chronic conditions.
One of the most important ways that Illinois can expand community based services and provide jobs to people with disabilities is to expand the number of CRSSes available in communities across the state.
As those of you who have followed the 1115 waiver application process know, the state is making an effort to reform and consolidate Medicaid waiver services.  There is an important part that needs work BEFORE the 115 waiver application is send to the federal government.  The draft application for the 1115 waiver specifically cites training dollars to fund professional disciplines which utilize a medical model approach while failing to fund disciplines which incorporate a recovery model approach.  The waiver application needs to specifically designate Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) education hours, internship opportunities and learning collaboratives to support the expansion of professional peer support across the human service spectrum.  (More information on this below my signature.)
So what can you do? We need you to PLEASE call the Governor’s office TODAY.  You can call the Chicago office at 312-814-2121 and/or the Springfield office at 217-782-0244.  This is what you can say:
“Hi. My name is __________ and I am calling to urge the Governor’s office to employ persons with disabilities and include CRSS opportunities in the 1115 waiver application. Person-centered does NOT mean a medical model approach. Thank you.”
Please email back with your response!
We thank our friends at Sacred Creations for the material in this action alert and their tireless efforts to make sure that people with mental health are the ones leading the fight to improve mental health services in Illinois.
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living
From AJ French of Sacred Creations:
The three things that are needed most include the following. 

•   Education Hours 
•   Internship Opportunities
•   Learning Collaboratives

Here's some more general information.
Regarding education hours, scholarships should be made available to cover training fees, travel, meals and lodging for individuals to participate in recovery education approved by the Illinois Certification Board.  Previous scholarships were lost when the Illinois Mental Health Collaborative had a reduction in their contract.  The trainings are still occurring (now developed by DMH), but now as a hardship to individuals who would be eligible for funding if it were available.  Additionally, funding needs to be available for travel and costs of CRSS exams.
Regarding internship opportunities, employers should be encouraged to hire individuals that have already obtained some of the required education hours and are striving to earn the required supervised work hours.  We frequently see job postings that say "ability to earn credential within 18 months of hire."  This is a good practice for individuals with some basic recovery education.  If you are an employer, you will want to consider someone who has successfully completed some or all of the following.  Obviously, the more hours one has the more knowledgeable they will be about recovery support services

•   CRSS Competency Trainings (annual 2 day training with new material offered each year)
•   Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitator training (40 hour training offered once per year)
Regarding learning collaborativesthe importance of this cannot be stressed enough.  Because the credential is young and because of cultural bias that people have about what persons with mental health conditions can and cannot do, these collaboratives are incredibly important to insure that employers and employees have opportunity to dialog about successes and overcome challenges as they arise.  It already exists within DMH (Bill, ask Tom Troe for more info) and when this credential expands to other health and human services, similar collaboratives need to exist to insure optimal outcomes.

For Access Living, visit: http://www.accessliving.org/

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