Mental Health Association’s Mike Brose Focuses on Changing the Paradigm

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“There is no us versus them.  There is only us.”  A powerful statement made by Mike Brose, the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Tulsa, who presented “Recovery in Our Lifetime:  The Possibilities Are Now,” on February 6, 2013 as part of Brookhaven Hospital’s Professional Seminar Series.  Mike spoke to a group of mental health professionals with a stated goal of providing a “disorientation” regarding several of the ways we approach caring for people with mental illness or issues of substance abuse.

Mike’s presentation detailed a brief history of the mental health profession exploring the fact that it is based on a medical model which involves a focus on pathology and disease.  He also touched on one of the problems with the disability assistance program and its inherent discouragement of recovery.  Mike suggested a move toward short term disability with a focus  on recovery.  Another aspect of the medical model is a heavy focus on diagnosis.  It was pointed out that many in the mental health community, professionals as well as patients, refer to a diagnosis as, “I am Bipolar,” for example.  In order to maintain our humanity, Mike suggested using people first language as in, “This is a person with Bipolar Disorder.”  Even though much of the mental health system is based on the medical model, there are stark differences in how physical manifestations of illness are treated compared to mental illness.  Mike spoke of the way in which people with mental illness are often transported in the state of Oklahoma by police car.  He also pointed out that someone making repeated trips to a medical professional for physical problems is looked upon so differently than someone who is chronically mentally ill.

Mike also covered the importance of housing as a first step in recovery.  For those individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems who are without housing, it proves difficult, if not impossible, to move toward recovery.  Mike referred to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs regarding the imperative that housing come first, then access to wellness and healthcare, following with employment assistance along with the support of a community.  He pointed out the connection between housing and community in talking about how people of the Mental Health Association’s residences look out for and care for each other.

Mike’s passion for advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness is clear.  He stated the simplicity of the Golden Rule, of treating others as you would like to be treated, and trying to imagine what it’s like to be in another’s shoes.  Indeed, there is only “us,” and at Brookhaven Hospital we understand how difficult it can be to reach out.  We are here to help.  If you, or a loved one, are in need of mental health services, please call  888.298.HOPE.

If you are a mental health professional or are interested in attending one of our future seminars, please click here for a listing of our upcoming presentation topics.

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