Letter from the Editor-in-Chief, J. PETERS
Hello readers! I am the Editor-in-Chief of Mental Health Affairs, J. PETERS.
I have aimed to bring readers the most critical and rigorous analytical commentary on the status of medicine, psychiatry, social work, psychology, and allied fields intersecting with mental health care today.
Mental Health Affairs evolved from a recommendation that writing needs to be cross-pollinated with elements of the peer perspective and clinical research and with experience practicing in the system-of-care in New York State where I work professionally and have also been treated for severe mental health diagnosis.
This blog was an experiment in many ways. I was charged with the task of marrying two worlds while producing a cogent product that spoke to both consumers and practitioners alike. In many ways, I have successfully merged the two worlds, and in other ways, less effective.
I initially set out writing the first article for Mental Health Affairs over four years ago. Given the administrative end of this blogging platform allows me to track stats, and the numbers of readers, their country of origin, and visits to the site, I have been evaluating the trends and resultant outcomes after each post. After all, as much as I dislike the business of mental health, I want to provide you folks with the latest trends and hot topics you will read about on the site with enthusiasm.
To give the reader a little more background on the evolution of this blog, it all began with this vision of merging ‘two worlds.’ Indeed, the common theme I settled upon to bridge the peer and clinical gap was self-management. Under the auspices of self-management, both clinicians and peers can benefit from learning how to teach, and self-employ techniques to better regulate their emotional and behavioral health.
The initial launch of Mental Health Affairs was in Autumn of 2016. At that point, articles on self-management were published in isolation. Without question, there was more work to be done to successfully merge the two worlds than to just coping and self-regulation skills from peer and clinical perspectives. After speaking with peers and practitioners who evaluated the blog’s impact, the plan moving forward from the initial launch was to create a platform not only a ‘do this’ or “try this’ approach. Instead, the shift was also to provide information on systems issues from ‘ableism’ to ‘stigma’ and how to use these new self-management skills to mitigate living in a culture rife with these sociological problems and maintain good mental health. In doing so, we created a pathway to the blog’s final expression, which is to champion more significant mental health reform.
Indeed, if self-management was the overarching theme, how could each article speak to both consumers and practitioners without losing sight of the overall goal and mission to disseminate accurate and cogent information to everyone successfully? With this said, to truly get underneath the issues, and paint the frontier between both worlds in colors which would not bleed out the information and lose both audiences altogether.
Underneath self-management, at the ground floor of the mental health problem, was the issue of language and its inherent instability to bridge the many intersections that would heal the mental health system and finally challenge the stigma existent in our country. At that moment, Mental Health Affairs took shape and grew boldly among the many blogs circulating the internet and soared above its infancy, becoming something much bigger and more profound than the narrow-focused literature disseminated in the past.
I believe “hope & healing” for mental health conditions are required to bring about better outcomes. The approach needed and yet left conspicuously absent from the system even though it is the very slogan championed by the state mental health system.
I attribute this weakness to the limitations of the system and the constraints placed upon its workers beholding biased perspectives and approaches to treatment that included the furthering of stigma within the system-of-care. For this very reason, this blog will continue to take up arms, and arms readers alike with information to dismantle, repair, and revise the system-of-care at every level that it intersects with the treatment of people with a mental health diagnosis.
Mental Health Affairs will continue to need readers like who will listen and filter out commentaries laden with stigma and listen to the reason voiced in this blog and its articles. The public has a choice moving forward, as were are at the most significant crossroads in Mental health treatment today more than ever.
The broken system is not doing the work to help those in crisis. Without delay, we need to give people in need the right information, skill-sets, and create a culture around Mental Health to feel safe and comfortable in their shoes, let alone their neighborhoods where available services are either inaccessible or a lousy treatment fit for their particular needs.
Ultimately, this blog will begin ramping up its call for full community access and integration to treatment. I wholeheartedly believe so much of today’s problem can be addressed and resolved when people have access to treatment, psychoeducation, and services in their communities.
Despite our tagline, this blog cannot bridge the gaps in care forever and is not designed to be a long-term solution to the country’s mental health crisis.
Mental Health Affairs is here to launch the most fabulous rallying call for people to demand from their government and leaders in power that the mental health crisis be resolved once and for all.