So I am the clinical director of a pilot project in Los Angeles County that provides preventative family therapy for youth at risk of developing a psychotic disorder. The treatment modality we’re using is called CAPPS (Center for the Assesssment and Prevention of Prodromal States). There are some pretty clear-cut “pre-psychotic” symptoms that my team and I have been trained to assess for when finding people to include in the program. Telecare Corporation, the company I work for, sent us to Yale to be trained by three Yale professors (Dr. Tyrone Cannon, Dr. Mary P. O’Brien and Dr. Barbara Walsh), in the treatment modality as well as the assessment tool called the SIPS (Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes.)
The project is funded in part by Proposition 63 or The Mental Health Services Act which was passed in 2004 and imposes a 1% income tax on personal income over one million dollars. It was pretty funny flying to Yale to be trained to assess for these symptoms, because…I would actually qualify for the program. I’m kind of “pre-psychotic” most of the time. And I was not the only one in the group that felt that way. A couple of us were like, “Ummm…yup. That’s me.”
The treatment is very research and outcome based and if the pilot goes well, the program has the possibility of becoming a more permanent fixture in the Los Angeles mental health world. On so many levels I have felt quite privileged to be a part of this program. I love the 15- 26 year old age group with whom we work. I love family therapy. I love training great, new, eager, talented therapists. And I love people diagnosed with mental illnesses (and those at risk of being so.) They’re my peeps. Except for the L.A. commute, things couldn’t be more perfect.
I work for a great company (Telecare), that for the last fifty years has dedicated itself to helping those with chronic mental illness heal and recover. My whole team loves what they do, and also feels grateful to be a part of this pilot program. They are dedicated to this population and go way out of their way to make sure the clients needs get meet to the best of their ability. I could go on and on, but enough raving about us and our program. Now I want to rave about the millionaires.
One percent many not seem like a lot, but it’s far more than a little, and I’m grateful for every penny of it. I’ve seen miracles happen with peoples’ hard earned tax money. I ran into somebody the other day that I worked with years ago. He was attending UCLA when he had his first psychotic break and I worked at a great mental health agency called The Alcott Center on the west side of Los Angeles near this university. He was part of the TAY group we had there.
TAY is an acronym used by the Los Angeles Department of Mental health and stands for transition age youth. It includes youth 16-26 years old. Programs specifically for the TAY population were just starting out in L.A. county when I worked at the Alcott center back then, and I ran a group for TAY individuals and participated in several of the start up meetings with other agencies providing services to this newly identified group.
This UCLA kid was incredibly smart and charismatic, but was also very ill, had been violent, and ended up spending some time in Patton, a California state run forensic hospital. He eventually graduated from UCLA and went on to get a law degree. He now does advocacy work for the mentally ill and I ran into him at an event where he was speaking about his story. I’d venture to state that he would not be doing what he is doing today as well as he is doing it without benefitting from tax payers money.
There were pivotal moments in my life where I believe if I didn’t get the treatment that I did from the treatment providers that I did, my life could have turned out completely different than it has. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Believe me. Good treatment makes a difference. And not just for the individuals who get the treatment. But also for everyone with whom those individuals come in contact.
I have always wanted to sit down with some California millionaires and truly thank them for their one percent. Share with them stories of the kind of difference that one percent makes. Because it makes a huge difference…in millions of peoples lives. It makes a difference in many concrete ways that we can measure, but it also makes a difference in more intangible ways that only God knows. Prevention and early intervention is always the best way to go. The aftermath of things gone bad is never pretty. You never know when a mentally ill person’s future hangs in the balance.
If you’re a millionaire…if you know any millionaires…Please! Make yourself known to me. I’d love to take you out to dinner and tell you thanks. I’d love to take you on a tour of our two program sites and introduce you to our staff. They’d want to thank you too. My husband is the president and CEO of a group home for boys called Pacific Lodge that also benefits from Prop 63 money. He’d love to take you out to dinner and tell you thanks…show you around The Lodge. My good friend Jessica Wilkins is the clinical director of The Alcott Center, which also uses Prop 63 money. She’d love to thank you and show you what your money is up to as well.
The love in me toasts to the love in you. Cheers.