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Community Care is a way to shift the onus of solving social problems away from the individual, like Kenny, who rarely has the resources, emotional education, time, or money to “self care,” to a greater collective that includes individuals, governments, aid organizations, communities, and businesses working together to improve the systemically broken conditions that produce homelessness, mental illness, violence, etc.
It was the tweet heard round the world – “shouting ‘self-care’ at people who actually need ‘community care’ is how we fail people.” – Nikita Valerio
It was and is a very strong statement which has deeply resonated with netizens world-wide.
But why? Why does this quote hit home so very hard, especially to those of us struggling with mental health issues?
The answer is…well…it’s complicated. So complicated that I’m going to need several posts to adequately present the facts, history and implications of Community Care (specifically Community Mental Health Care) because you really need to have a holistic view to fully understand the concept.
One thing I can say right now though is that Community Care and Community Mental Health Care are vitally important concepts to understand for anyone interested in why the world is such a mess these days.
How so? Well imagine you see a homeless person on the street, let’s call him Kenny. He’s in rough shape and looks like he needs a hand.
You’re a good person so you give them some money and food. The next day you come back and do the same thing. Eventually you use your connections to secure him a place to live, a car and a job.
But then Kenny starts acting strangely. He gets into fights with his neighbors. He can’t pay his parking tickets on time and gets hit with a ton of fines. He loses his license and his car so he can’t get to work any more. He feels rotten about it all and starts to self-medicate with alcohol.
Eventually he gets kicked out of his new place because he’s disruptive and can’t pay rent. Soon enough you see him right back at the same place you met him on the corner.
And you’d probably ask him “WTH Kenny? I gave you a house, a car and a job, how on earth did you end up back on the street? What’s wrong with you!!???”
But the question you should really be asking is one to yourself – “What’s wrong with the system? Why is Kenny incapable of caring for himself even with all the resources given?”
Because nobody ever taught Kenny to budget and save his money for emergencies. Because his conflict management skills suck since he only ever learned to communicate through fighting. Because he has undiagnosed and unmedicated mental illness. Because small parking fines often add up to huge loses for already impoverished people and can even lead to jail time, bankruptcy and homelessness.
Because Kenny has no life skills and the systems around him are only built for people who do.
That’s where the ideal of Community Care comes in.
It’s a way to shift the onus of care away from the individual, like Kenny, who rarely has the resources, emotional education, time, or money to “self care,” to a greater collective that includes input from that individual but also governments, aid organizations, communities, and businesses working together to improve the systemically broken conditions that produce homelessness, mental illness, violence, etc.
If you want to know more about all this, keep your eyes peeled for our forthcoming series on Community Mental Health Care and take a look at this informative video below:
Thanks as always for reading!
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1 thought on “Breaking the Cycle – Exploring Community Mental Health Care Pt. 1: Intro”
Here in the UK we do have Care in the Community but I don’t believe it’s as helpful as it should be. I’ve studied and worked with the Community Mental Health Teams and Crisis Intervention teams and if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’d find it hard to believe.
The state of some of our patient’s homes; looking like they haven’t been clean or tidied for years. I’ve seen kiddies running around with bare black feet from their uncarpeted floors and the Community Psychiatric Nurse I’ve visited with turns to me and says “Mum’s not as bad as usual and the kids look fed and happy.” No matter that the mum’s clearly psychotic and doesn’t want to go to hospital.
That, I understand because the care’s not as good as it should be on the wards either. But just to spend ten minutes with this family is a disgrace. Each patient gets five to ten minutes and is asked ‘How are you feeling today? Are you taking your medication?’ and told ‘You need to tidy up around here by the next time I visit.’ which could be within the week or……
I’m sure the CPN’s or Social Workers must have wanted to be nurses in the first place but now it seems, they’re all old, bored and burnt out. I look forward to reading how it turns out for you guys. Caz x