Community Services Vital to Mental Illness Recovery

From Psychiatric News Alert: Successful recovery from serious mental illness in the community requires more than just clinical care—it requires a range of human and social support systems. That’s what Estelle Richman said this week during a keynote address to kick-off this year’s APA Institute of Psychiatric Services (IPS) in Philadelphia.

Richman has had a long history of public service, working most recently as senior advisor to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development for health and human service issues. From 2003 to 2009, she was secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Prior to that, she had held the positions of director of social services, commissioner of public health, and deputy commissioner for mental health, mental retardation, and substance abuse services for the city of Philadelphia.

Richman drew on her extensive experience in public service and especially her experience helping to close the old Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry (it was officially closed in 1990) and in the development of a community-based mental health system to replace it.

At the IPS, she expressed optimism about the movement toward integrated care and the expansion of care, including the coverage of mental health and substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act, but said the vision of a truly successful mental health system has not yet been achieved. And she emphasized the need for a range of social and supportive services in the community for people with mental illness.

“For people with mental illness to be successful in the community, community resources need to be expanded. These resources include housing—moving from institution to group homes to independent living with supports is critical—as well as case management and supported employment. Work and employment are central to the growth of the individual people want meaningful activities of their choice.”

Look to Psychiatric News for comprehensive coverage of this year’s IPS.

In the South Bay, the search for resources like those discussed by Richman can begin at 211 LA County by dialing at no charge 2-1-1.

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