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As a young person in long term recovery from a primary diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I have dedicated the last 8 years of my life to establishing pathways for other young people with lived experience to step up and out of the circumstances which defined them as simply mentally ill, an addict, incompetent, etc. I have worked countless hours attempting to establish a peer-run recovery initiative for young people across this state. Yet, at the end of the day, it seems like individual organizations are more interested in having ownership over young adult programming, than actually investing in an authentic recovery-oriented system of care model.
What is a recovery oriented system of care model? It is the model that has been “guiding” our delivery system since approximately 2006. Despite the clear description offered both at the federal and state levels, we have yet to realize an equitable position for “consumers” of behavioral health services in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programming. It is disheartening that organizations within our state continue to promote themselves as recovery-oriented, yet fail to actually invest in the organization and mobilization of an autonomous group of young people who seek to inform policy and practice.
I just had a conversation today with a leader in our state, that included, “we” should consider organizing a young adult advisory board. What does that even mean? Why can’t you see that WE, actual young people with lived experience, are fully capable of organizing ourselves if YOU would invest in our infrastructure. WE already have the beginning of a peer-run, grassroots initiative whose vision it is to make the opportunity of recovery available to all young people across the state of Connecticut, who seeks to make this happen by sharing our experiences to influence policy and practice at the local, regional, and state level. WE already have outcomes that have clearly demonstrated that WE are fully capable of organizing ourselves and building capacity amongst our peers. It’s like we’re all ready to go, with no vehicle to get there.
Honestly, its just leading me to feel hopeless. I have spent so much of my personal time, and resources, going above and beyond what was expected of me, even investing in a graduate program where I spent three years research emerging adulthood and behavioral health during this developmental stage, trying to build the credibility needed to be given the opportunity to share and grow the peer-movement for young people in our state. Yet, at the end of the day I just look like a crazy person because I’m staying up until 12:15 at night sick of feeling like it’s not even worth pushing anymore. I just can’t imagine another program, initiative, or group for young people that is created without the direct involvement and subsequent investment in Join Rise Be.
It just really makes me want to give up and go get a f@*+ing desk job at an insurance company. At least based on the pictures posted to Facebook and Instagram my friends who traded the career that actually brought them a sense of purpose for a cubicle get to go to the Caribbean and have office parties where they decorate their co-workers cubicles. It would probably rob me of my soul, but at least I wouldn’t have to feel bad about myself for not saying the right thing, or not saying what I should have said a different way to another person. I’m just not sure how much longer I can beg for the opportunity to actually mobilize young people across the system through a cross-sector investment of multiple partners.
For example, go ask your bosses if you can come to a meeting in Hartford on September 17th, during work hours, to discuss the projects that your working on with an organized group of young people. Say that it would enhance your ability to effectively represent the young people in which you were hired to speak for. Because if we really take a moment to step back and consider why we are hired, it’s more often than not because we check a box and we’re motivated. When in reality, we actually have the opportunity to speak as representatives of the emerging adult cohort.
I just don’t get it… and I wish that some other young person would give a meaningful s$%# about this too.
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