By Elvia Knoll – My Most Needed Mental Health System Reforms

Access to fresh. organic food is a needed mental health system reform.

Access to fresh. organic food is a needed mental health system reform.

These are some of my opinions about what should happen in Mental Health Reform NOW…. and what I’m trying to get our group to have an impact on. These are broad sweeping statements focused on the overall objective and outcome- they are ambitious and they will require community involvement and organization.WHOLE BODY HEALTH & HEALING:

1. MEDICATION TRUTHFULNESS as a partial, transitional solution, rather than as the sole focus of treatment.

a. MEDICATION FREEDOM. the right of individuals to choose to take or not take medications- and access to alternatives so medication is not the only option for these complex issues.

b. INCREASED INFORMATION and practicals about how to maximize health despite side effects from medications, how to better deal with deficiencies that the medications might create.

c.  BETTER DISCLOSURE about risks and alternatives to medications, and bias within consumer-run groups, hospitals, and doctors, when they take money from pharmaceutical companies.

2. HOLISTIC, INTEGRATIVE MEDICAL DOCTORS AND PSYCHIATRISTS that approach the body as an integrated whole, with a focus on therapies to build the body’s balance and restore health, with insurance companies covering these holistic, integrative practices. Blending the EASTERN philosophies into the treatment of the body as a whole unit. A focus on restoring balance… and searching for root causes rather than covering up symptoms.

3.  ACCESS to ORGANIC, FARM FRESH FOODfor low-income families, especially children. Those that live at the poverty level need their vitamins and nutrients, because healthy nutrition can greatly impact the development of the brain, which will also impact mental health. This would include changing the food systems within the public schools, and hospitals to reflect a more WHOLE FOODS approach. Garden programs in schools and hospitals for fresh, nutritious produce.

4.  NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING FOR LOW INCOME 5INDIVIDUALS to understand the impact of food choices on mental health.

Mental Health System Reforms We’ll Leave to Others

Other groups are working on refor,s that need to be addressed, but we are not going to focus on them directly, because nobody who wants to accomplish anything can focus on everything:

Other advocates work on other mental health system reforms.

Other advocates work on other mental health system reforms.

A.  POSITIVE, HEALING ENVIRONMENTS within hospitals, residential facilities, and treatment centers, where the actual space is conducive to healing, where a person can relax, rest, and be encouraged by the physical surroundings.

B.  PEERS playing a greater role in treatment and policy-making.

C.  IMPROVED PUBLIC PERCEPTION of mental illnesses. social integration, and acceptance. People with mental illnesses should be allowed to live free from judgment and unfair generalizations, free to work, study, and socialize without bullying, discrimination, or degrading social injustice.

D.  AN ABILITY/STRENGTH-BASED FOCUS. Consumer-led groups, advocates, professionals, and health providers would stop feeding into the stereotypes and stigmas with biased, illness-focused language.

E. Preseningt pros and cons, without judgement and added bias around medication, so that the decision is truly a personal one, free of coercion and misinformation 

F.  More options. More information. NO forced medicating.

Mental Health is a complex issue,and there are many groups working on different aspects of needed mental health system reforms. I know that what I’ve listed here would take some time to accomplish. Its a lot of stuff. These are just some highlights of what changes I really would like to see in our next 25 years to move into a more modern treatment of mental health issues.

We’re having a THINK TANK meeting in Austin ,Texas at the North Central Market patio Saturday September 1st…(time to be determined)

We want to form powerful alliances and partnerships within Austin to support endeavours that relate to this list…

If you want to be involved, please contact us at 512-573-5810. Or if you prefer email, You can send your thoughts to

What would you add (or subtract) on this list of needed mental health system reforms? How do we get there?

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