Filmmaker and Historian Team Up to Change How Mental Health Care is Taught, Practiced

Contact: Jessica Pratt                                                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Communications Manager                                                         November 30, 2017

(Wilsonville, OR) – Award-winning director/producer Lucy Winer has teamed up with author and Distinguished Professor of History Nancy Tomes at Stony Brook University to create an innovative digital learning site for health care students and professionals. The site will consist of an extensive video archive and online curriculum that aims to build awareness of the past and instill attitudes and values essential to a mental health care system grounded in the principles of recovery.

“This project is important because it will allow residents the opportunity to look at and discuss issues that are often not included in psychiatric training. These profound glimpses into the past highlight how our mental health care system has evolved and underscore the importance of building a future where patient-centered and recovery-oriented care is central to the work we do as mental health providers,” said Melissa Arbuckle, MD, PhD, Vice Chair for Education and Director of Resident Education in the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University.

With a new grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, the pair will beta test their learning site with an extensive video library of personal stories from people with firsthand experience of the mental health care system, both past and present, including streaming access to the critically acclaimed documentary “Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution.” The site will also provide a multi-disciplinary curriculum to guide teachers and students to understand the perspectives and challenges experienced by people throughout the mental health care system and explore approaches to care that lead to recovery.

“As clinicians, we focus on interprofessional initiatives with other health care providers. This innovative programing adds a new dimension to this focus: it asks that we take people with lived experience seriously as partners in their own care,” said Patricia D’Antonio, Carol E. Ware, Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

People in need of care and the health professionals who want to help them face constant changes in the structure and accessibility of mental health care in the United States. Working to understand mental health challenges, they are plagued with overconfidence in the medical model and an over-reliance on risky and often ineffective psychotropic drugs for treatment. The pace of change and of life also threaten to cut us off from critical lessons of history that we dare not forget.

“Ever mindful that learning and awareness are two of the keys that unlock recovery, we are honored to serve as a test site for the project prototype in the coming year. For people with lived experience, for peer support advocates, and indeed, for all who explore the rich educational content within, this project moves us light years forward in finding our own paths,” said Jody Silver, Executive Director of the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey.

Development and testing of the new site will be done in collaboration with four partner organizations: Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, a peer-led statewide nonprofit; the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; the Columbia University Psychiatric Residency Program; and the SUNY Stony Brook Department of History.

“I believe this digital learning site can play a critical role in supporting a culture of respect, care and engagement in the critical realm of behavioral health care,” said Stephanie Le Melle, MD, Director of Public Psychiatry Education Columbia University.

The project was awarded an “Expanding the Science and Practice of Recovery-Based Mental Health Care & Supports” grant, funded through the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care by a person with lived experience of the mental health system. When asked about the motivation and hope for their gift, they replied, “I meet a lot of people who feel shamed and angry and traumatized by their experience with the mental health system. This was certainly my personal experience.

‘We are hoping these grants will help better care gain traction, develop an evidence base, and become widely available to help people get through episodes of crisis without becoming “mental health patients” and inspire others in the philanthropic world to join in and help change the system.”

The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care is a U.S.-based community foundation with funders, grantees and volunteers from across the globe. We envision a world in which all people have hope, knowledge, tools, a sense of community and access to care to recover from mental health and trauma challenges. We connect donors from around the world to independent research projects and innovative programs that lead to recovery.

Grant proposals were reviewed by the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council and grantees were selected by its Board of Directors.


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