Last May, the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (MACMHB) Executive Board considered and then tabled for further consideration the Choice Resolution, a statement confirming the right of consumers of Mental Health services to choose from an array of services and supports based on their needs and preferences. Over the summer, the statement was revised and approved by the MACMHB Executive Board. It recognizes differences in philosophy and service needs in this diverse population of mental health consumers. The policy applies to members of the Association - all CMH Boards in Michigan.
The Choice Resolution was a response to issues raised in recent months regarding services for people with developmental disabilities. Administrators from the Michigan Department of Community Health had stated their intent to eventually eliminate specialized programs for people with Developmental Disabilities that are provided in group settings such as day programs, sheltered workshops, and group homes. They claimed they only wanted the best for our family members, but they also recognized that with the state in financial distress, this was an opportune time to begin slashing funding for programs they claimed were discriminatory and isolating. In addition, a draft policy from the Standards Group of the MACMHB, called the Vision for all People with Developmental Disabilities, was being distributed and talked about at meetings between the state and Community Mental Health agencies as if it were already approved policy .
The draft policy statement was especially disturbing because it explicitly stated that the "Vision" should apply to everyone with a developmental disability, regardless of the severity of the person's disabilities, cognitive abilities, or medical or other issues affecting the individual. It was also incredibly silly in its attempt to apply a detailed list of acceptable and unacceptable activities for all people with DD (joining Neighborhood watch is OK, but don't do it with a bunch of other people who are developmentally disabled; a little bit of Special Olympics may be OK, but too much is not acceptable; etc.). Behind the Vision statement is an ideology that some advocacy groups support, but it lacks a basis in law and policy regulating services to people with developmental disabilities.
At the May MACMHB Executive Board meeting there was some backtracking on the Standard's Group "Vision" with promises to take out value judgments on placements and programs that some people need and want in their communities. The Executive Board finally came up with this:
RESOLUTION REGARDING CHOICE
Adopted by the MACMHB Executive Board August 6, 2010
The Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (MACMHB), Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs), and Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSPs) recognize there are differences in service preference among the individuals they serve and shall honor Choice for all consumers regardless of the individual’s service delivery site philosophy.
MACMHB, PIHPs, and CMHSPs shall support taking all necessary steps to ensure that individuals with mental Illness, developmental disabilities, or substance use disorders and children with serious emotional disturbances have the opportunity to live in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate to the needs of the individual and is the individual’s personal Choice.
MACMHB, PIHPs AND CMHSPs shall support a person centered planning process that honors the individual’s true Choice.
Our vision embraces programs or services that enable the persons that we serve to be full and participating members in their community.
This can include the continuation of existing services, the improvement of existing services, and the development of new opportunities, all driven by ongoing and informed consumer Choice.
This may do little to squelch the zealots who want to eliminate programs that don't measure up to their views on what our family members should want and need, but it is a beginning. The interest and participation of families and consumers from all over the state were a hopeful sign that the mental health system will respect the differing philosophy's of consumers and continue to take that into account in the programs and services they offer.