Called “Voices for Choices”, this project aimed to create free and accessible training resources for individuals to advocate for themselves or a loved one at risk for involuntary treatment and for individuals and communities to advocate for system change; to increase advocates’ ability to connect and organize potential allies, and to measurably increase participants’ sense of empowerment as effective agents of change at the community level and with legislators and government agencies. These resources include videos, a handbook and one-on-one mentorship.
The first and unexpected outcome of the grant award was a major donation from an individual inspired by the project. That donation significantly improved MindFreedom’s infrastructure, including staff, capacity for volunteer coordination, and a website revamp.
A 12-part series of short training videos is now in post-production and expected to be available on the Mindfreedom website in early 2019.
Two webinars from the development phase of the project are available now at MindFreedom.org/resources/training-webinars. Future webinars will be honed by the learnings of the initial focus groups which found that forced medication and forced ECT were the highest concern of respondents. Forced hospitalization was also identified as a high priority.
An organizing handbook is in final edits and being modified for the web. Hard copies will be available to those without adequate internet access.
The short time frame of the grant project introduced extra challenges to the development of the mentorship program but the initial cohort provided valuable lessons to improve the experience for mentors and mentees in the future.
Pre and post data will be collected to assess the effectiveness of all training resources and to improve future iterations.
The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care congratulates project coordinator Sarah Smith and all of the volunteers and participants who made the project a success. We look forward to sharing the completed training resources and celebrating the successes of future advocates.