Piedmont Behavioral wants decision-making in clients’ hands

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Piedmont Behavioral Health Care
Empowerment. In its most literal sense, it means to “enable” or to “give power to.”
The national Consumer Recovery Movement puts decision-making regarding treatment and care in the hands of the consumers, rather than having them continue to be passive recipients of dictates handed down by doctors and other health-care professionals.
Such is the focus of Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare’s Consumer Family Advisory Committee.
The local group covers all five counties in Piedmont Behavioral’s jurisdiction รณ Cabarrus, Davidson, Rowan, Stanly and Union.
One Consumer Family Advisory Committee member sits on the state committee, which is the advocacy arm of the state’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
The local committee’s role is to advise Piedmont Behavioral and to serve as the voice of local “consumers” using the agency’s services and their families.
The Consumer Family Advisory Committee is comprised of consumer-clients and family members. This aspect alone gives empowerment to members of the mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse communities. The voice championing their rights, advocating for services and pushing for greater understanding is their own.
The committee will scrutinize all activities related to consumer and family involvement in the management and operations of Piedmont Behavioral. The 21-member committee is responsible for:
– Advising and commenting on Piedmont’s business plans.
– Helping determine local needs and taking part in community planning.
– Assisting in monitoring services as they are developed and delivered.
– Reviewing and commenting on local service financial information.
– Taking part in quality management.
-Ensuring consumer-client and family participation at all levels of the agency’s operation.
– Helping empower consumer/clients.
– Informing and educating other consumers, family members and the general public on mental health issues.
Members may serve two three-year terms, with one third of the membership changing each year.
Membership represents the counties Piedmont Behavioral serves, reflecting both the race and ethnicity of the population.
The Consumer Family Advisory Committee meets the third Tuesday of each month in Concord.
Current committee officers are: Chairman David Bullins, Stanly County, and Co-Vice Chairwomen Beverly Morrow, Cabarrus, and Andrea Stevens, Rowan.
Other committee members, by county, are:
– Cabarrus: Dawn Bierschbach, Jeff Euto and Michael Kinlow.
– Rowan: Sarah Boyd, Melanie Frick, Ann Medlin, Linda Mercado, Major Sampson and Mary Sechler.
– Davidson: John Hufton, Rick Samuels Jr. and Vernon Worrell, who also serves at liaison to the Piedmont Behavioral board.
– Stanly: Bart Kean.
– Union: Lemar Underwood.
One initiative embodying the committee’s core goals was the recent person-centered planning conference, “The Sky is the Limit,” held in October at the Salisbury Holiday Inn. More than 350 consumers, family members, health-care providers and Piedmont employees attended the two-day conference.
The free event was co-sponsored by the Consumer Family panel and Piedmont’s Community Relations Department with the goal of empowering those challenged with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues.
It was an opportunity to fight the stigma society places on individuals with mental health concerns through networking, education and support.
The conference, partially funded by a grant from Eli Lilly, offered educational opportunities designed to help people better understand person-centered thinking and self-determination.
It also focused on developing skills that can help people with behavioral disabilities live actively and productively in the community.
Pam Shipman, Piedmont Behavioral area deputy director, described the conference as “an amazing experience.”
“I believe that I saw true empowerment,” she said. “It was evident in the way that people talked, in the assertive way that questions were asked, in the sharing of personal experiences and achievements and in the smiles. There was pride everywhere.”
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For more information on Piedmont’s Consumer Family Advisory Committee, call Shelby Marlow at 704-721-7060, or visit www.pbh.org and click on PBH Consumer/Family.